Sen. William Parkinson introduced a resolution urging the governor to petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to expand the Guam-Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Visa Waiver program to include the Republic of the Philippines.
Parkinson introduced the resolution after meeting with the Guam Visitors Bureau. GVB president Carl Gutierrez has stressed the need for a Filipino tourist visa waiver to further economic recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic, a release from Parkinson's office stated.
Federal Public Law 110-229, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, grants the governor of Guam authority to petition the Department of Homeland Security to expand the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program to include the Philippines, according to Parkinson.
His measure, Resolution 14-37, states the Philippines was not initially included in the program due to factors at that time, but many changes have occurred in the country in the 15 years since to warrant reconsideration.
“The Philippines is now the 39th largest economy in the world, with a burgeoning middle class. And with a gross domestic product of $314 billion, according to recent figures from the World Bank. … The Philippines has seen over time significant decreases in the visa rejection rates, with the adjusted refusal rate for B-visas being 32.49% in 2020,” the resolution stated.
The Philippines is poised to be a beneficial source market for Guam tourism if a tourist visa waiver were in place. And with many people on Guam having strong ties to the Philippines, the waiver would draw in tourists wanting to visit family, Parkinson's release stated.
The freshman senator made the case for the resolution in Tagalog.
“Ang pagbisita sa pamilya ay isang napakahalagang bahagi ng ating buhay. Ang pagkakakita sa ating mga mahal sa buhay ay nagbibigay sa atin ng kalakasan at inspirasyon upang harapin ang mga pagsubok sa buhay. Sumusuporta ako sa visa waiver para sa mga Pilipino na papuntang Guam,” Parkinson stated in a release.
In this statement, Parkinson essentially said that visiting family is one of the most important aspects of life and being able to see loved ones is what gives one strength and inspiration to face life's challenges. He concludes with his support of a visa waiver for Filipinos headed to Guam.
Parkinson added that a visa waiver would bolster tourism and encourage trade and investment from the country, creating more jobs and opportunities locally.