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Gov't to extend e-visas to more foreigners

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the government will soon make it easier for foreigners to stay in the Philippines through measures that extend e-visas to more nationalities.

“We will find a way to do it. But we are doing it (extending the visas),” Marcos said in a statement released by the Presidential Communications Office on Sunday.

Marcos made this assurance when Indian Ambassador Shambhu Kumaran paid a courtesy visit to Malacañang Palace last week. The diplomat requested the President to allow the extension of e-visas for Indian nationals who are staying in the Philippines.

According to the Indian embassy website, around 120,000 Indian nationals visit the Philippines annually. A 2018 report from India’s Ministry of External Affairs stated that there are 105,000 non-resident Indians and 15,000 Persons of Indian origin living in the Philippines. A large percentage are students taking up degrees related to medicine.

Marcos responded that provisions for e-visa extensions would be implemented not just for Indian nationals but for other foreigners staying in the country.

"It won’t be just India, we are doing it with… several other countries as well to keep it. Again, we will just apply the same principles that we did with others – to India. But that is something that’s easy for us,” Marcos said.

“That’s going to be a good beginning of a good exchange between our two countries,” the President added.

Last September, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced it was considering expanding its e-visa system to include India, after its pilot test in China after a recommendation from the Department of Tourism (DOT) which identified India as the next huge tourism country.

Kumaran’s courtesy visit to Malacanang was meant to reiterate India’s aim to strengthen bilateral relations with the Philippines. Both countries will mark the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Philippine-India diplomatic relations in 2024.

In recent years, the Philippines and India have made several economic and diplomatic moves as both nations have sought to strengthen and improve relations. — DVM, GMA Integrated News