‘Fil-Ams willing to apply for RP visa’

By: Alex P. Vidal

“We believe that visa quotas should be lifted and people should visit anywhere they wish freely.”—Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

I WAS inside a giant mall in Brooklyn January 6 evening when Bombo Radyo Iloilo anchorman John Felco Talento interviewed me “live” about the reaction of the Americans on the threat of Iran to retaliate “harshly” after it’s A-1 military genius, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was slain on January 3 in an airstrike by the United States as ordered by President Trump.

I said during the interview that everything was normal in as far as the regular activities of the Americans are concerned.

They appeared to be not bothered at all by the dangerous threat of violence from the powerful Islamic state even if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has raised a heightened alert for Iran’s possible attack anytime in major U.S cities.

I further said that Americans who are outside the United States or those vacationing or working in other countries, notably in the Middle East, are the ones who are exposed to danger and are now worried for their safety as the US-Iran conflict accelerates to a higher level day by day based on reports.

Americans already inside the US territory believe the government can adequately and sufficiently protect them from any possible foreign invasion because of their well-organized, high-tech, synchronized and very durable security system, I added.

What we worry here is the possible violence to be perpetrated in crowded places and in the subway by the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization, and may have sleeper cells in the U.S. that are ready to retaliate.

We will remain alert and vigilant.




IF the Duterte administration will push through with its threat to require American citizens to obtain a visa to enter the Philippines, “I have no problem with that,” an Iloilo-born Filipino-American (Fil-Am) declared January 6 in New York City.

“It will most likely be an arrival visa. We can always pay for that visa upon our arrival and, ergo, we can be with our loved ones for a temporary visit,” predicted 49-year-old Rommel Leal of Lambunao, Iloilo.

Leal, a laborer, is among the New York-based Fil-Ams who will go home to watch the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City in the third week of January.

He appealed to the Philippine government to “leave the Fil-Ams alone and don’t make life difficult for us because we have nothing to do with its conflict with the US government.”

President Duterte has threatened to require a visa to all visiting American citizens in an apparent act of retaliation after the Trump administration banned from entering the United States all Filipino government officials responsible for the continued jailing of opposition firebrand, Sen. Leila de Lima.




In a tit for tat, Mr. Dutere has ordered the banning of three U.S. senators who authored a Senate Bill where the banning of anti-De Lima officials was contained.

It became a law after being signed by President Trump most recently.

Leal, however, said he doubted if President Duterte was serious with his threat especially if he realized that millions of balikbayan Fil-Ams would be affected.

Leal did not believe that the Philippine government would go to the extent of spending additional funds and manpower for the Philippine Consulate in the United States just to process travel visas for Fil-Ams.

He suspected that President Duterte “was only carried by his emotion” when he issued the visa threat because of his long-standing rift with the US Embassy in Manila.

The ban on the three U.S. senators had no effect whatsoever, Leal said, because they have no interest in visiting the Philippines, in the first place.

But a visa requirement for returning Fil-Ams or, in a worst-case scenario, a ban on Americans who have nothing to with the diplomatic quarrel, will have a serious effect on Philippine tourism and economy, warned Leal, who flies to the Philippines at least three times in one year.

Assets of Filipino politicians covered by the ban are also in danger of being “frozen,” observed Leal.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)