Justice to OFWs: ICJ wrong venue

The Department of Justice on Sunday played down the case filed by some overseas Filipino workers before the International Court of Justice seeking to compel the government to lift its travel ban on Hong Kong so that they can get back to work.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Philippine government has the sole authority to impose a travel ban in the country.

“The ICJ has no jurisdiction on matters like public health or migration that can be dealt with by national governments or by other more relevant international agencies,” Guevarra said, in a text message.

Guevarra issued the statement after some Filipinos based in Hong Kong, who have been stranded in the Philippines, sent an appeal to the ICJ last week.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of China, where the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) originated and claimed more than 1,600 lives.

Guevarra said the ICJ is not the proper court to hear the appeal of the workers.

“The decision to restrict foreign travel is the sole prerogative of national governments who should know what is best for their own people,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is an international agency that has information on the current situation on COVID-19.

Reports said some workers were willing to sign a waiver if they would be allowed to return to Hong Kong. They said they are willing to take the risk because they would be covered by Hong Kong’s health care system.

In related developments:

• The police said its anti-cybercrime group was monitoring social media in a bid to combat the spread of disinformation on COVID-19. Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac to radio dzBB they have identified six fake online accounts that were spreading fake news about COVID-19. He warned them that they could be jailed for six months up to 10 years for spreading fake news.

• Lawmakers from Eastern Visayas and their chief of staff recently held a brainstorming session on measures to establish tertiary hospitals and improve health care services in Rebion 8. Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, along with her husband, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, through Jude Acidere and Maria Isabel Morales-Mañalac organized the meeting.

• Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday described as “ill-advised and unjust” the travel ban imposed by the government on Taiwan as he lauded its lifting. “It’s just good that the travel ban was not long. If not, Taiwan could have done a retaliatory act towards the Philippines, “ said Lacson in an interview over radio dzBB on Sunday.

• Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said discriminating against Chinese because of COVID-19 fears was wrong. Since the authorities announced the first case of COVID-19 in the country, many Chinese-looking individuals were ostracized. Cab drivers, for instance, have refused to pick them up. Adamson University advised Chinese students to immediately postpone all transactions in the school until they have observed self-quarantine for 14 days. The university, later on, apologized for the decision. Even social networking sites have been bombarded with anti-China (and anti-Chinese) sentiments, with some saying Chinese should all be banned in the Philippines. “This mounting discrimination against the Chinese is counter-productive. Hence, like the coronavirus, the spread of hate must be contained,” Gatchalian said.

Topics: Department of Justice , overseas Filipino workers , International Court of Justice , Menardo Guevarra
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