MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines respects Malaysia's decision to bar the entry of Filipinos, Malacañang said Thursday, as Manila leads the tally of COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia.
Barring Filipinos from entering Malaysia is a "sovereign decision," President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said.
"That’s a sovereign decision — who will be allowed to enter one’s territory," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
"I’m not saying we’re happy. I’m saying na we regret the decision but we respect the sovereign decision of Malaysia," he added.
Malaysia said it would also bar entry of people from India and Indonesia starting Sept. 7.
Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez said the entry ban covers tourists and long-term visa holders.
The Philippines has so far reported 226,440 confirmed COVID-19 infections, of which 64,207 are active cases.