DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

MANILA – The government is weighing carefully the factors in allowing the entry of foreign experts engaged in crucial projects and businesses in the country, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday.

“We are studying these matters very carefully. We have to deal with the repatriation of thousands of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and we do not want them to be crowded out by foreign nationals who will likewise have to be tested and quarantined upon arrival,” Guevarra, a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said in a media statement.

Guevarra said a foreign embassy, which he did not identify, had requested the Philippine government to allow the entry of its nationals with permanent or long-term visas issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), an agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Noting that any action on this request may affect citizens of other countries, the IATF-EID referred the matter to a technical working group to determine how many such foreigners are involved and to make a recommendation.

“We also have to see how many foreign nationals are really involved — If they comprise a manageable number,” Guevarra said, adding that the IATF may consider allowing them to enter.

He added that the Department of Public Works and Highways had also raised the request.

“Note that many of them are already here. It’s already those who were abroad and caught by the lockdown who wish to re-enter the country. It came across to me as an expression of the need for these foreign consultants and other technical workers due to their expertise,” Guevarra said. (PNA)

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