The government of the Philippines may push for the visa-free entry of Filipinos to South Korea at the 2019 Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK), according to Philippine Ambassador to Korea Noe Albano Wong.
Wong mentioned Filipinos have to secure their visa in order to enter the country, which is not a requirement for Koreans who wish to stay in the Philippines for a month or less.
“We are trying to raise that issue on a quid pro quo…because almost every time Filipinos here will come, we have to get visa right?” he told reporters in a press briefing.
“So far, I have no idea yet as to the progress about that. But that is one of the things that we are trying to raise. Why is it that we allow them to do like this?” Wong added.
He said the Department of Tourism might also bring up the issue at the summit which will be held on November 25 to 26.
“It’s just that I saw the, shall we say, the inequality. I don’t know if the term is right…In fact, (there have been) so many complaints about the length of time now in getting visa in the… Korean Embassy… From 15 days to 30 days to even 45 days now,” Wong said.
Increasing number of illegal Filipino workers
On a different note, Han Dong Man, South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines, said what prevents visa-free entry of Filipinos to their country is the increasing number of illegal workers there.
“We hope in the near future we will have visa-free policy between Korea and the Philippines but so far, there are quite a number of… illegal numbers of Filipinos in Korea,” Han said.
“If we decrease our illegal people, naturally, we can have a free-visa policy,” he resolved.
According to Han, around 15,000 illegal Filipinos workers stay in South Korea. They are still growing in number as some of them are tempted to stay even after their visas expire because of the amount of salaries they are getting.
Poor job prospects in the Philippines is the main reason why many Filipinos decide to work overseas.
“Your Department of Justice and also our Korea Department of Justice will try to lower the number of illegal people, so eventually we can have a free visa policy one day,” the Korean envoy said.
Meanwhile, concerning the prolonged processing time of visas, Han said the Korean Embassy had taken steps to address delays in processing after visa applications had increased by 20% this year.
About 93,000 Koreans are in the Philippines while 58,000 Filipinos are in South Korean. Last year, around 1.6 million Koreans visited the country, but the government wants to increase the number to two million.