HAGATNA—Philippine senator and boxing champion Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao is endorsing the government of Guam’s push to persuade the U.S. government to grant visa waivers for Filipinos who wish to travel to the American territory. Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Bautista Rodriguez has also backed the idea.
In separate visits by former two-term Guam governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez, who now serves as chief advisor to Gov. Lourdes “Lou” Leon Guerrero for Economic Development, National and International Affairs, Pacquiao and Rodriguez expressed enthusiasm for the initiative.
“I’m confident that Sen. Pacquiao and Congressman Rodriguez’s unqualified support for this worthwhile initiative will go a long way to encourage travel between the Philippines and Guam,” Gutierrez said.
He argued that it is time to grant Filipinos visa waiver when visiting Guam since regulatory red tape is making it too difficult for Filipino travelers to visit and secure temporary employment in Guam, even though tens of thousands of Filipinos already live in the U.S. territory.
It is Gutierrez’s goal to add the Philippines to the list of the dozen countries whose passport holders are allowed visa-free passage to Guam and the CNMI by way of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.
In an earlier visit to Manila, in April, Gutierrez secured the imprimatur of the Philippine government to form a Philippines-Guam Visa Task Force for this purpose.
The task force is also charged with helping the Philippines get back on the list of countries whose nationals can be fast-tracked for H-2A and H-2B worker visas. Guam is hoping to secure workers from the Philippines in the next few years during the island’s multibillion-dollar American military buildup.
No stranger to U.S. immigration laws requiring visas from visiting Filipinos, Pacquiao would have been required to obtain a visa for boxing matches the champ has fought stateside over the years. (PR)