PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order (EO) 72, requiring concerned government agencies to consult the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) with regard to foreign nationals' entry in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Inked by Duterte on December 18, EO 72 amends EO 271 signed in 1995, governing the admission and temporary stay of foreigners in the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone.
Under EO 271, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Bureau of Immigration (BI), and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) are directed to issue guidelines and circulars implementing the order.
Duterte's new order directs the DFA, BI, and SBMA to jointly implement EO 72 and issue guidelines, in consultation with Nica, "to ensure that there will be no detriment to national security" in allowing foreigners to stay in Subic Freeport Zone in a limited period of time.
Foreign nationals, not categorized as "restricted" as determined by the DFA, are allowed to enter all ports of entry of the Subic Freeport Zone for business and tourism purposes and stay without visa for a maximum period of 14 days, subject to certain conditions.
EO 72 authorizes the DFA, BI, and SBMA to collect reasonable fees for the processing of no visa entry and applications for visa waivers.
Duterte mandates foreigners to present their passports, certificates of identity or travel documents valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay in the Subic zone and confirmed onward flight or marine vessel tickets.
It also directs foreign nationals who enter the zone to depart from the country only through Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) or the Subic Bay Piers and Wharves.
The Subic Bay Piers and Wharves have emerged as new destinations for international cruise ships, as shown by the number of cruise ship arrivals in 2018. Each international cruise ship carries an average of 1,600 passengers and 1,000 crew members.
"It is anticipated that there will be a continuer increase in cruise ship arrivals in the Subic Bay in 2019 and onwards," EO 72 read.
"There is a need to amend EO 721 to allow foreign nationals granted the visa-free privilege under the said EO to depart from the Subic Bay Piers and Wharves, besides the SBIA," it added.
EO 72 was released by Malacañang on Thursday, December 20. (SunStar Philippines)