MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday threatened to blacklist hotels and other lodgings that kick out or overcharge tourists, in light of reports that some foreigners in the Philippines are “sleeping in open air” in a time when the country is stricken by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a meeting, European Union Delegation to the Philippines Chargé d'affaires Thomas Wiersing reportedly told Locsin that foreign tourists are being kicked out of hotels once their bookings end, “even if they can’t book domestic flights out.”
“Hotels that kick out tourists, DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) will [be] blacklist,” Locsin tweeted.
Locsin also threatened to name and shame these establishments and to deny its owners of Schengen visas, which Filipinos need to travel to most countries in Europe.
“Government will blacklist all hotels & inns that threw out tourists or overcharged. DFA will spread the word abroad that named to be shamed hotels w/addresses and the faces of their owners are blacklisted to be avoided. No Schengen visas should ever be issued to the owners,” he said.
The EU and other governments earlier called for an increase in the frequency of domestic flights or sea transport from the Philippines to international ports and allow the foreigners to get shelter in case there is no flight.
“We want their people to go home safe and sound as soon as possible,” Locsin said.
According to the foreign secretary, there are 4,500 tourists stranded in the Philippines and some of them have “medical conditions and [are] pregnant.”
“This is a humanitarian issue. Our honor is at stake. The solution is this -- liberal implementation of the 24-hour window until the last foreign tourist is out,” Locsin said.
Locsin said foreign tourists should also be allowed to board flights and vessels to take them to international airports even if they have not booked international outbound flights. He said local governments that stop them from doing so should be sanctioned.
“The support of their respective foreign missions is critical. LGUs (local government units) stopping them should be sanctioned,” he said.
Wiersing spoke on behalf of the EU countries, and even Argentina, Australia, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and the UK, “for about 4,500 tourists.”
Locsin said he will be working with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to secure flights for foreigners and get them out of the country.
Earlier, Locsin on Twitter assured foreign tourists that arrived on February 14 and given a visa for a stay of a maximum of 30 days will be assisted by the government.
“The Bureau of Immigration will extend their visas and waive penalty for overstaying,” he said.