COVID task force arrests 46 persons for fake documents

More than 46 people were arrested across the country as the Joint Task Force COVID Shield ordered a crackdown on the manufacture of fake Medical Clearance Certificate and other documents that allow people to travel in any part of the country during the enforcement of quarantine measures.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said the use fake documents poses great danger since the people who are using these could be coronavirus carriers as they did not undergo the medical check up to determine if they are free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Most of the first and new cases of COVID-19 infection in the provinces have been traced to the return of the locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) to their respective communities.

“While all arriving LSIs are being subjected to medical check and quarantine as a matter of protocol by the receiving Local Government Units (LGUs), those who use fake Medical Clearance Certificate and Travel Authority endanger the health and safety of others they would travel with and the people they would mingle with in the quarantine facilities of the LGU destination,” said Eleazar.

A Travel Authority is needed by Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) if their travel involves crossing the borders of Metro Manila, a province and a Highly-Urbanized City. Before a Travel Authority is issued, a Medical Clearance Certificate must be presented in order to ensure that the traveler is free of COVID-19.

Eleazar said the intensified operation against fake Medical Clearance Certificate, Travel Authority and other documents that exempt a person from quarantine rules is in response to the request of the Local Government Units (LGUs) to control the travel of LSIs.

Some LGUs earlier asked the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 to control the issuance of Travel Authority since the influx of LSIs in their areas has already resulted in the lack of quarantine facilities where they would be temporarily held and local health personnel to assist them.

Interior and Local Governments Secretary Eduardo Año, who is the vice chairman of the NTF on COVID-19, then tasked the JTF COVID Shield to intensify the counter-checking of all LSI travellers in order to ensure that prior coordination is made before these persons would be allowed to go back to their respective hometowns.

Aside from Medical Clearance Certificate, a Travel Authority is issued only if the receiving LGU gives a go signal for the LSI to travel through prior coordination between the police station that issued the Travel Authority and the LGU destination. The LGUs, on the other hand, can also delay the entry of the LSIs.

While Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) are no longer required to present Travel Authority of their travel is work-related, airline companies and passenger vessels are now requiring all their passengers to present Medical Clearance Certificate.

“All uncoordinated travels must be presumed to be using a fake Medical Clearance Certificate and Travel Authority unless cleared by the issuing authority. Like those who manufactured these fake documents, those who are using them must be punished for endangering public health,” said Eleazar.

Eleazar stressed that police commanders must ensure that those who would be arrested are charged and be denied any opportunity to go back to their illegal activities since the manufacture of fake Medical Clearance Certificate and Travel Authority may contribute to mass infection in the area of destinations of the travelers.

On Tuesday, the JTF COVID Shield reminded all police commanders to be strict in counter-checking all the Travel Authority that would be presented in Quarantine Control Points in order to ensure that coordination was made for the travel of all the arriving LSIs in their respective Areas of Responsibility.