Many believe that the United States has always treated the Philippines as a “little brown brother” rather than as an equal. Our bilateral relationship with Uncle Sam tilts more towards being one-sided, as in the case of travel between our two countries.
While Americans can travel to the Philippines visa-free, Filipinos must obtain a visa to visit the U.S. And for many Filipinos, obtaining a U.S. visa is like going through the eye of a needle.
Is it time for the Philippines to demand equal treatment? Is it time to require U.S. citizens to obtain a visa to visit our country?
To demand that we be included in the visa waiver program which grants visa-free status for citizens of certain countries visiting the U.S. might even be more difficult now than it was in the past with Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and actions on travel ban. So, perhaps the better route would be to strip America of its visa-free status to the Philippines until such time that the two countries can sign an agreement that is truly reciprocal.
The European Parliament has recently voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the European Union. It comes after the US failed to agree to visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – as part of a reciprocity agreement. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa.
The vote urges the revocation of the scheme within two months, meaning Americans will have to apply for extra documents for 12 months after the European Commission implements a “delegated act” to bring the change into effect.
I think to argue that requiring U.S. citizens to obtain a visa when visiting the Philippines will greatly impact business and tourism is to say that Americans are not willing to visit any other country that imposes visa restrictions, which is not the case.
As for those who are naturalized or dual U.S. citizens, I think that an exception to the visa requirement can be put in place to enable Filipinos or former Filipinos to visit with relatives or just spend time away from the U.S. in their beloved homeland.
Let’s stop being little brown brothers. Let’s demand fairness and equality. And there could be no more appropriate time to do so than now.