Missionaries in Philippines Concerned by Proposed Changes to Immigration Law

Changes in the Philippines’ immigration law are a concern to missionaries serving there, a mission news service reported Monday. The changes, proposed last September, could mean limited ministry opportunities for foreign missionaries.

“Basically the gist of it came down to that all missionary workers would be limited to one, five-year term of duty here in the Philippines, non-renewable,” Send International's Philippines Director Phil Burns told Mission Network News.

“That sent quite a panic through the missionary community,” he added.

And though later in December, one renewal was granted, “that still would play great havoc with the missionary community here to be limited to an absolute 10-year window,” Burns said.

Since the memo was issued, there has been some good news, the director reported. "The commissioner has indefinitely postponed the implementation of the order, but it's for the purpose of consulting with both some of the Catholic and some of the evangelical groups that this would severely impact," he said.

"It looks very promising,” Burns continued. “The fact that the commissioner has indefinitely postponed the implementation of the order and the fact that it's across the board, it's not just the evangelicals, even the Catholic Bishops have come out and said they see some concerns."

According to MNN, a meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21 to iron out the issue.

Sources say terrorism and other illegal activity are the reasons for the strict guidelines.