Demapan: Include PH in CNMI waiver program
Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan) aims to formally encourage Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to seek the inclusion of the Philippines on a list of countries eligible for the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program allowed for under federal law.
Demapan, in a House resolution set to be introduced during a session Tuesday, encourages the CNMI governor to petition the consideration and approval of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to include the Philippines in the visa waiver program.
“More recent global GDP rankings show promising indications that the economy of Philippines continues to rise, thus demonstrating a tremendous potential for significant economic growth that may be beneficial to the CNMI
The Philippines has also realized significant decreases in visa rejection rates, the resolution states.
As tourism remains the primary economic driver for the CNMI, the inclusion of the Philippines to the list will help increase visitor arrival to the Commonwealth, it adds.
“Philippines Airlines has recently announced their decision to commence direct flights between Manila and Saipan in June of this year. The inclusion of the Philippines to the list…coupled with the new direct flight service” will “help the Commonwealth bolster its destination promotion strategies and approach.”
The CNMI governor has the discretion under the Consolidated Resources Act of 2008 to request the secretaries of the departments of Interior and Homeland Security to add a particular country to the list of countries approved to participate in the visa waiver program.
The Philippines was not initially considered nor included in the originally list of approved countries by Homeland security.
The resolution states that after eight years since implementation of the visa waiver program, an adequate arrival and departure control system has been developed.
“Granting the inclusion of the Philippines to the list…does not represent a threat to the welfare, safety, or security of the United States or the CNMI,” it adds.
In 2009, the secretary of Homeland Security exercised discretionary authority to parole into the CNMI visitors for business or pleasure who are nationals of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.
The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2009 tasked Homeland Security to create a list of any countries from which the CNMI had received a “significant economic benefit” from the number of visitors for pleasure within the year preceding enactment of the law.
The department determined that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia meet this economic threshold.
Parole is authorized on a case-by-case basis only for entry into the CNMI and does not extend to other areas of the United States.