Unfortunately, what I predicted almost two weeks ago has come to pass. The national Covid-19 Task Force issued a new resolution to make domestic travel easier in the Philippines. While mandatory COVID-19 testing, quarantines, travel passes, and health certificates are no longer required for domestic travel, most Local Government Units, LGUs, have availed of the Task Force’s one loophole. The loophole? Covid-19 testing for travelers is not mandatory, unless the LGU will make it a requirement.
“PH LOCAL GOVT UNITS BLOCK EASIER DOMESTIC TRAVEL RULES”
And of course, most local government officials, wanting to hold onto the excessive power given to them during the so-called pandemic, are requiring COVID-19 testing before one can enter their “kingdom.” While the intentions of the Task Force were good, this one loophole virtually nullifies the Task Force’s goal of making domestic travel from one place to another easier.
Some destinations that reopened still impose a test-before-travel policy says Tourism Secretary Romulo-Puyat.
Boracay, Bohol, Ilocos Sur, El Nido, Coron, Puerto Princesa, San Vicente in Palawan, Pangasinan, La Union, Siargao, Siquijo, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Cebu City all require test before travel. Our island province of Guimaras is also requiring prior testing for tourists.
In fact, the Tourism Secretary points out that nearly all destinations require test before travel. This defeats the purpose of the Task Force’s resolution. How can the economy and tourism in the Philippines thrive if the LGUs insist on keeping their draconian rules?
Some Provinces Not Obeying Task Force Regulations
Furthermore, some provinces are not welcoming tourists and requiring travel documents that the Task Force said are no longer necessary.
Reports indicate that Iloilo, Kalibo, Bacolod province, Tacloban, Cagayan De Oro, Davao and General Santos have refused to accommodate visitors.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it would investigate and verify these reports.
President Duterte Wants to Open Economy Soon
However, in one sliver of sanity, I heard on the news last night that President Duterte wants to open the economy soon. Despite the ever-rising number of COVID-19 infections in the country, Duterte on Thursday said that he has to reopen the economy in “a timetable of just weeks.”
“We cannot forever be in the strict protocols. People are hungry; people have to work, to eat, to survive,” the President added.
I hope the President follows through on that commitment. A year of lockdowns is enough.
It’s time to move on.
With reporting from the Inquirer.net and the Philippine News Agency, PNA.