By Aaron Recuenco
With the reopening of some tourist destinations, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has ordered the reactivation of tourist assistance desks to inform local tourists to observe the minimum health safety protocols.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa stressed that most of the tourist spots that reopened are under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), which means that health safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are still in place.
“The PNP’s tourist police units must be present at all times to implement health protocols in tourist destinations that are now under MGCQ. I ordered the PNP regional directors to activate their tourist police and assistance desks to ensure that local tourists will strictly follow health protocols based on the existing guidelines by the Inter-Agency Task-Force (IATF),” said Gamboa.
Earlier, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat allowed domestic tourism in areas under MGCQ provided that strict health protocols are followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The official said that the Tourist-Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection (TOPCOP) must be active 24/7 in order to ensure availability for assistance for local tourists.
He said the TOPCOP will strengthen the existing Tourist Police Assistance Desks (TPAD) in the country’s tourist destinations.
“We all know that many areas have eased into MGCQ and may now resume domestic tourism operations. The PNP is prepared to provide support to LGU’s who may have difficulty monitoring and ensuring the strict compliance of tourists,” said Gamboa.
Based on the agreement with the Department of Tourism, local police will establish Tourist Police Assistance Desks and Tourist Police Outposts in coordination with DOT Regional Offices and Local Tourism Councils.
Aside from enforcing proper observance of health protocols, Gamboa said the Tourist Police will also provide added security operations for local tourists and establishments and to respond to tourist-related security and safety issues.