Tokyo—House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is backing President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to require Americans visiting the Philippines to get visas, saying there should be reciprocity between the two countries.
Alvarez said he wondered why the Philippines allows Americans to freely come to the country while Filipinos have to line up in the wee hours of the morning just to secure a US visa.
“If they’re not willing to grant us the same privilege, we might as well also require their citizens coming to our country to apply for a visa,” Alvarez told reporters in Tokyo, where he joined Mr. Duterte who was on a three-day official visit to Japan.
Alvarez, echoing statements of Mr. Duterte, said the Philippines was too subservient to the United States.
‘Put them in right place’
“We have to put them in the right place,” he said.
Alvarez said, however, it was up to the executive branch to impose visa requirements on foreign visitors.
During his state visit to China last week, Mr. Duterte said “it’s about time” Americans were required to get visas to visit the Philippines.
Alvarez played down the possible tourism revenue losses if the Philippines’ required visas for Americans.
He said the bulk of tourists visiting the Philippines came from Korea, China and Japan.
Tourist arrival statistics show the United States as the second top source of foreign visitors to the country, behind South Korea and ahead of China and Japan. The 2015 figures show 1.3 million Koreans, 779,217 Americans, 495,662 Japanese and 490,841 Chinese visited the Philippines.
Asked to comment on the imposition of a strict visa policy due to the many undocumented Filipinos in the United States, Alvarez said that that was not the Philippines’ concern.
“It’s their problem. In our case, if someone stays here while undocumented, it’s our problem,” he said.
Addressing an investment forum on Oct. 20 in Beijing where he announced his “separation” from the United States. Mr. Duterte broached the idea of requiring visas for American visitors.
“Is there an American here? If you are planning to go to my country, you get a visa from where you come from. Maybe … It’s about time,” the President said. TVJ