The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday defended its mandate to issue visas to foreign nationals, including Chinese, saying it conducts a “thorough assessment” of visa applications submitted to its embassies and consulates.
In a statement, DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said the department’s visa-issuing mandate is “integral to the current national gatekeeping mechanism of admitting foreign nationals into the Philippines.”
“The DFA provides the first tier of defense gatekeeping while abroad with the development of stringent admissions criteria for foreign nationals,” she said.
“This system ensures that only legitimate tourists, travelers, and investors will be allowed inside the country.”
The Department of Justice is pushing to allow third-party outsourcing company VFS Global to handle the visas of Chinese nationals entering the Philippines, citing its “capability to check the authenticity of submitted data” from applicants.
VFS Global also works with other foreign missions to manage administrative tasks related to visas and passports but whether an applicant would be issued a visa would still depend on the contracting government or embassy.
Embassies and consulates obtain mandatory security clearances or derogatory records check from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the Bureau of Immigration (Bl), as well as the necessary authorization from the DFA Office of Consular Affairs in the case of restricted or visa-required nationals, the DFA said.
“The DFA’s stringent visa issuance process is complemented by Bl as it provides the second tier of defense gatekeeping at the country’s port of entry under the Philippine Immigration Act through the admission of aliens based on its security database and conduct of interviews upon arrival,” it said.
Daza also highlighted that DFA’s mandate to issue Philippine visas to foreign nationals through its embassies and consulates is anchored on international and domestic laws, such as the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the 1987 Administrative Code, and the Codified Visa Rules and Regulations of the Philippines of 2002.
“This function authorizes the DFA to conduct vetting procedures to ascertain the status of visa applicants as legitimate visitors and their travel purpose to the Philippines,” she said. (PNA)