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Guam governor seeks Philippines' inclusion in visa waiver program


Filipino travelers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Photo by Mar-Vic Cagurangan

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is seeking the inclusion of the Philippines in the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program.


"To address any concerns, the government of Guam is willing to push resources and support to ensure the success and supervision

 of a pilot program if needed," the governor said in a letter to President Joe Biden.


Leon Guerrero asked that her government's request be squeezed into the agenda for the Trilateral Leaders' Summit of the Philippines, Japan and the United States on April 11, where state leaders will discuss

expanded security and economic cooperation.


Noting the Philippines' rapidly growing economy, Leon Guerrero said removing the visa requirement for Filipinos who wish to travel to Guam and the CNMI would stimulate both territories' tourism.


The governor said Filipino travelers spend more than the tourists from Guam's primary markets. which would bolster the island's economic recovery efforts after the decline in tourism due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Typhoon Mawar.

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The Philippine economy is an emerging market and is considered a newly industrialized country in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2023, the Philippine economy was estimated $436.6 billion, making it the world's 34th largest by nominal GDP and 14th largest in Asia according to the International Monetary Fund.


"Guam has a large Filipino community, and we have a close relationship with the Philippines." the governor said.


 The 2020 Census reports that the Filipino community comprises 29.1 percent of Guam's population.


"It would also align with your administration's commitment to strengthening regional cooperation, security, and inclusivity in the Indo-Pacific. The Guam Army National Guard can further strengthen its relationship with the Filipino armed forces," Leon Guerrero said.


The Customs and Border Protection created the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program, which allows certain nonimmigrant visitors to seek admission to the islands without a visa for a maximum of 45 days.


"We would like to note that expanding the visa waiver program to include the Philippines will produce a controlled situation due to geography, our closed port, and limited overstays," she added.

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On April 5, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo to discuss President Ferdinand Marcos’s upcoming visit to Washington D.C.


"Secretary Blinken reiterated the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance and thanked Foreign Secretary Manalo for his productive visit to Manila in March. Secretary Blinken and Foreign Secretary Manalo also discussed shared alliance priorities, both in the Indo-Pacific and around the world," according to a statement from the State Department.




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