Locsin: Stamp with PH EEZ to be used on all foreign passports

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr clarified on Friday, November 8, that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) will use stamps with the Philippines' "entire" exclusive economic zone when it resumes stamping Chinese passports that feature its invalid 9-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

In a tweet on Friday, Locsin said the policy would also apply to all foreign passports aside from China's.

"The real story is our stamp. Full Extent of Our Sovereignity. Full stop," Locsin said.

No issue with announcements. The real story is our stamp. Full Extent of Our Sovereignity. Full stop. https://t.co/DO6UgXDlfA — Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) November 8, 2019

Locsin was responding to reports citing the BI's announcement on Wednesday, November 6, that it would resume stamping Chinese passports with the 9-dash line rejected by the Philippines and invalidated by the 2016 Hague ruling.

"Rappler and the Philippine Star are at it again. Contrary to their innuendo, the Philippine visa – with the stamp of the full extent of Philippine sovereign territory and waters is being stamped on all foreign passports," Locsin said.

Rappler and the Philippine Star are at it again . Contrary to their innuendo, the Philippine visa —with the stamp of the full extent of Philippine sovereign territory and waters is being stamped on all foreign passports. That policy cannot be overturned/reversed by Immigration. — Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) November 8, 2019

The BI earlier said it would resume stamping Chinese passports following a memorandum issued by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente. The memorandum was issued after China introduced a new e-passport with pages that had the 9-dash line.

The BI said the change in policy complied with the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) foreign service circular which instructed Philippine consular officers "to affix the Philippine visa on the pages of Chinese passports where the nine-dash line map is drawn."

Prior to the change in policy, the Philippines, under then-president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, stopped the stamping of Chinese passports in December 2012 to protest China's nine-dash line claim. In the 7 years of the no-stamp policy, Philippine visas were given to Chinese passengers in a separate sheet of paper.

The stamping of Chinese passports with the Philippines' EEZ comes after President Rodrigo Duterte signed off on this policy change last August. Locsin earlier made the proposal as he explained stamping directly on Chinese passports instead of a form would enable the Philippine government to better keep track of the movements of Chinese nationals into the country. 

Locsin said the BI alone could not change this policy, as he edited the title of the BI's announcement to read: "Retitled: Stamp with Full Extent of Philippine Sovereignty for All Passports." The Immigration announcement had been titled "Immigration to resume stamping on PROC (People's Republic of China) passports."

Retitled: Stamp with Full Extent of Philippine Sovereignty for All Passports https://t.co/BlSIVgqyh9 — Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) November 8, 2019

"Immigration is just a stamping agency. I make foreign policy.... That policy cannot be overturned or reversed by Immigration," he added.

Like the Philippines, Vietnam – which has claims in the South China Sea – had also refused to stamp Chinese passports. Meanwhile, Indonesia printed special visas embossed with its own map, similar to Locsin's proposal. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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