By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang is expecting that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will soon finalize the guidelines for sea travel between areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) after the government’s pandemic task force allowed inter-island voyage.
In an interview over state-run PTV-4, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that while inter-island voyage is allowed between GCQ areas, the PCG must first release guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Sana nga po maayos na ng Coast Guard ang guidelines at mga detalye ng social distancing sa mga maglalayag na barko (We hope that the PCG will soon finalize the guidelines and how to implement physical distancing in seacrafts),” he said Saturday.
According to Roque, he was uncertain if those who will be traveling by sea are required to undergo PCR testing, but said this was a mandatory requirement for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and non-OFWs.
Aside from testing, Roque said local government units (LGUs) may enforce their own requirements but reminded them to allow OFWs already cleared by the Department of Health (DOH) to return home.
“Ang pakiusap nga po ng Presidente, para doon sa mga umuuwing OFWs na sumailalim na sa PCR test ay pabayaan na po natin silang umuwi (President Duterte has appealed to them to allow OFWs who were already tested to come home),” he said.
Malacañang earlier announced that all returning Filipinos must undergo testing upon arrival and must stay at a quarantine facility until results come out. However, non-OFWs must shoulder their accommodation.
Meanwhile, Roque urged manning agencies to allow OFWs, particularly seafarers, to submit their requirements online especially if they are from areas that restrict travel.
“Siguro naman yung mga manning agencies, kung alam nila na manggagaling sa lugar na hindi pa pwedeng bumyahe eh gawan ng paraan siguro na electronic submission na lang muna (Perhaps the manning agencies can allow the electronic submission of requirements if they know the OFW will be coming from a place where travel is restricted),” he said.
“Pupunta at pupunta din naman ‘yan sa Maynila o ‘di naman kaya sa mga lugar na may bukas na airport para makaalis. So kung ang employment agencies naman po ay nasa Manila, gawan na lang po muna nila ng paraan po na ito ay isumite ‘pag nakarating na sa Maynila (After all, they will still be going to Manila or other places with airports that are operating. Maybe they can just submit physical copies later.),” he added.