MANILA — Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on Wednesday said visiting Chinese nationals should undergo vetting process before being issued a visa, contrary to the current scheme of granting "visas on arrival."
"We need to put an end to visas upon arrival; all visas should be issued by consular offices after vetting. We must take extra care in outsourcing any part of the visa application process, picking only the most reputable worldwide," Locsin said in a tweet.
Locsin made the statement after National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon called the influx of Chinese nationals a "security risk."
"As the National Security Adviser, I have the tendency to look at it as a threat... I’m on the cautious side. When foreigners, regardless of nationality, come in, and their intent is not clear. Or when some of them are undocumented, or have false documentation," Esperon said.
Under the current procedure, the Philippines has a visa upon arrival process for qualified visiting Chinese.
"So we curtail visas on arrival which means: visitor not vetted in our consulates abroad; planes have passengers without visas thereby incurring US Homeland Security wrath. We have to stop stamping visas on slips of paper rather than foreign passports. We need a new visa stamp," Locsin said.
China remained the least trusted country by Filipinos, according to an opinion poll released earlier this month.
The survey was done after a Chinese boat rammed a Filipino fishing vessel near Reed Bank in the South China Sea. Twenty-two Filipino fishermen were marooned at sea until a Vietnamese ship rescued them.
The same poll showed that 43 percent of Filipinos disagree with the statement that "Most of what the Chinese government wants to happen in the Philippines is good for the Filipinos." Twenty-seven percent agreed while 30 percent were undecided.