Governors seek status quo on implementation of travel requirements

( – October 19, 2020 – 11:29am

MANILA, Philippines — The League of Provinces of the Philippines wants to maintain the requirements of medical clearance certification and travel authority for non-authorized persons outside residence and locally stranded individuals to minimize the further spread of the new coronavirus in their areas. 

Last week, the government’s inter-agency task force on coronavirus response allowed travel “for any purpose” between general community quarantine and modified GCQ areas to jumpstart the local economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The loosening of movement restrictions is subject to “reasonable” regulations by local government units.

The IATF updated its list of people considered as APORs, which now includes returning or repatriated OFWs and other overseas Filipinos returning to their places of residence and other persons transported through the efforts of national government.

Medical clearances, travel authorities required

In a statement, Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Velasco, LPP president, said provincial governments will continue to allow the entry of overseas Filipino workers and LSIs provided that non-APORs and LSIs would comply with the basic travel requirements such as the medical clearance certification (MCC) and travel authority (TA).

“The MCC is a minimal requirement to ensure that the individual is not infected while the TA is required for efficient scheduling of the entry and proper coordination with the receiving LGU,” Velasco said.

“The entry of LSIs, whether considered as APORs or non-APORs, shall still be status quo or subject to the ‘concurrence of the receiving LGUs’ through prior communication with the focal persons of the concerned provincial and city governments through their hotlines to coordinate the date of their entry, unless the LGU will no longer require these,” he added.

The LPP president also stressed that the concurrence of LGUs is needed to ensure adequacy of quarantine areas of the receiving local governments. Receiving LGUs can also require LSIs to be subjected to RT-PCR tests upon entry provide the cost of the test is shouldered by the local government.

Coordination with LGUs

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield ordered all police commanders to coordinate with their respective LGUs to determine if there would still be travel restrictions in their areas of responsibility or would implement “unrestricted policy” for incoming travelers.

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, JTF COVID Shield commander, said some local chief executives are asking the national government to give them ample time to adjust to the decision.

Eleazar said the implementation of the travel restrictions, especially those who are not included in the list of the APOR and the LSIs, will be left to the discretion of the LGUs.

This means if an LGU would choose to defer the implementation of the recent IATF decision, “restricted policy” would still be in effect in which travelers would still need to obtain a travel authority and other documents being required by concerned LGUs.

But if an LGU would agree to the “unrestricted policy,” there is no more need for a travel authority even for non-essential travels.

“In the meantime, there would be a status quo on the implementation of the travel restrictions unless certain LGUs signify intention to immediately comply with the IATF’s ‘Unrestricted Policy’ on travel,” Eleazar said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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