Statement on the Guam Daily Post Report, "Travellers, Stuck on Guam, Plead for a Chance to Say Goodbyes to Loved Ones,” Published on 24 September 2020



  1. Over the past week, the Philippine Consulate General in Agana (PCG Agana) handled two cases involving naturalized U.S. citizens (former Filipinos but without dual citizenship status under Philippine law) who wanted to travel to the Philippines.
  2. As had already been stated in advisories issued by the Philippine government and widely published on various channels, including on the websites and social media platforms of Philippine Foreign Services Posts across the United States and throughout the world, travel restrictions are now in place as part of government measures to control and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Philippines.
  3. These advisories have been very clear - that only a few categories of foreign passport holders are allowed to travel to and enter the Philippines at this time, and even if qualified under any of those categories, those foreign passport holders must still apply for or should already have an appropriate entry visa prior to travel.
  4. Unfortunately, neither of the two subjects identified in the news report fall under those specified categories.
  5. The news report also mentions that “foreign travelers can seek the issuance of a travel document in times of need, such as the death of a loved one,” which is factually wrong.
  6. The travel document that Philippine Embassies and Consulates General provide as a consular service is a single-use document issued in lieu of a Philippine passport that allows for one-way travel direct to the Philippines for a PHL citizen who needs to get home (e.g. someone who has lost a passport while on tour).
  7. When the Government of Guam (GovGuam) decided to revert the island to Pandemic Condition of Readiness Level 1 (PCOR1), with corresponding stay-at-home/lockdown orders to minimize congregation and personal interaction and to control the spread of COVID-19, PCG Agana, as a responsible member of the island community, had no option but to adhere to, as it is obliged under diplomatic and consular practice, those orders and issuances as promulgated by the duly constituted authorities on Guam.
  8. PCG Agana likewise urged its nationals on the island to do the same as, clearly, any response to the COVID-19 pandemic requires collective effort to be effective.
  9. Of particular concern during this period has been data from the Guam Department of Public Health and Safety that of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases, over 1 in 5 (21.8%) were of Filipino ethnicity.
  10. Given the threat to health and lives, it would have been highly imprudent of PCG Agana to ignore relevant GovGuam orders and guidance memorandums and remain open to the public. Thus, PCG Agana decided to temporarily suspend on-site consular operations, consistent not only with relevant DFA Manila orders but with U.S. Department of State Guidelines, which state that “...even at its highest level, diplomatic immunity does not exempt diplomatic officers from the obligation of conforming with national and local laws and regulations.”
  11. Yet even with the suspension of on-site consular operations, PCG Agana continued to deliver necessary consular assistance via postal or courier services (e.g. issuance of travel documents, limited issuance of visa based on exemptions authorized by Manila, processing of civil registration, and evaluation of dual citizenship documents).
  12. Had the two subjects in the report qualified for an entry visa, PCG Agana would have issued them those visas even under PCOR1.
  13. The Guam Daily Post report also stated that, “...they received replies from the consulate staff. But the replies did not result in getting the help they need.” On this point, PCG Agana emphasizes that its assistance and advice depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Even granting that both subjects ‘needed’ to go to the Philippines, they still have to satisfy and comply with relevant government regulations; just as PHL citizens who ‘need’ to go to the United States, or any other country, have to comply with regulations for travel and entry to those countries.
  14. In addition, PCG Agana diligently responded and attended to the queries of both subjects (as it still does) and one of them even admitted this much in her tweets to DFA officials; consular officers and representatives also remained engaged in assisting both women despite one of them acting rudely and arrogantly toward consular staff and making insulting statements against the Philippines.
  15. These actuations are sufficient grounds for PCG Agana to recommend that person’s inclusion in the blacklist and bar her from ever entering the Philippines, but PCG Agana instead extended utmost understanding given the personal grief and anguish that they were both going through over the loss of a loved one.
  16. On obtaining a Philippine visa being not that simple, PCG Agana wishes to clarify that qualified applicants with complete requirements and no derogatory records can be issued their visa within two days, and in certain cases these can even be expedited to one day with an additional fee (compare that to the visa process for other countries).
  17. However, it is also partly true that it is not that simple because we are in fact living through uncertain and very challenging circumstances, and with governments around the world grappling to control and reduce the spread of this virus and its impact on the health and lives of their citizens, the least that we can do is to cooperate and unite behind their efforts.
  18. Furthermore, in the case of one of the subjects, since she clearly was not qualified under any of the categories of foreign nationals allowed under Philippine travel restrictions presently in force, issuing her a visa was simply not an option and thus she was advised to reacquire Philippine citizenship. Whether she was born in the Philippines or not has no bearing on her eligibility for visa issuance or reacquisition of Philippine citizenship; one may be born outside the Philippines, but may still qualify to apply for dual citizenship.
  19. There is also no truth to the assertion made in the news report that reacquiring Philippine citizenship is a complicated and protracted process. Once all documentary requirements are complete, the process can be done within four working days.
  20. The only impediment at this time is due to the fact that the oath-taking, the final step prescribed under law, requires personal appearance, which unfortunately we are unable to do because of the measures in place on Guam as explained above.
  21. As may already be clear at this point, PCG Agana had always been straightforward with the concerned subjects about what their options were and had been in constant communication with them in an effort to resolve their situation.
  22. At this time, PCG Agana is already in receipt of the dual citizenship documents of one of the subjects and is simply awaiting for the PCOR level to be downgraded or the written confirmation from GovGuam that it interposes no objection and consents to PCG Agana’s intent to resume on-site consular services albeit limited and strictly by appointment only.
  23. The request for exemption to allow travel to the Philippines and for issuance of the appropriate entry visa for the other subject has also been submitted to Manila, and we are simply awaiting the decision on that request by higher authorities.
  24. PCG Agana reassures the public that, despite present constraints and the challenging circumstances we face, we are definitely doing our jobs. Just because a few affected individuals are finding it difficult or refuse to comply with Philippine regulations (which we are duty-bound to implement) and thus cannot immediately avail of their needed services does not mean that we are not doing our job.
  25. In fact, we would argue that if we just issued anyone and everyone whatever they requested because they ‘needed’ it without ensuring compliance with Philippine laws, regulations, and requirements, then that would have been us clearly not doing our jobs.

Follow @PHinAgana on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

On the web: https://www.aganapcg.info/news-phinagana/