First of all, how would you define “balikbayan”? At its broadest definition, a balikbayan would be someone who entered the United States on a Philippine passport but now enters the Philippines on a U.S. passport, with or without the intention of staying within Philippine territory.
Using that definition, how many of the 4M+ Filipino-Americans would qualify?
Don’t our officials realize that by insisting on the visa requirements for U.S. citizens, we are just hurting ourselves, and, disproportionately, U.S. citizens of Filipino descent, who still have relatives in the Philippines and the sentiment to now and then visit the country?
But I suspect that this pronouncement is simply playing to the gallery, an effort to appease their support from PH passport holders in the U.S. But it is within the sovereign right of the U.S. government to remove these PH passport holders from U.S. territory unless they can claim U.S. citizenship. As Mr. Nieto would have said, we should not confuse the existence of authority with the exercise of that authority.