Police commanders around the country have been instructed to determine the travel protocols that will be implemented in their respective areas after some Local Government Units (LGUs) have requested to maintain the status quo in requiring travel authority especially for Locally Stranded Individuals and those who are not included in the list of those who are exempted from home quarantine, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield said on Monday.
LGUs were given two options of travel protocol — the Restricted Policy wherein travelers entering an LGU will still present a Travel Authority, or the Unrestricted Policy wherein LGUs will implement the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).
The IATF-MEID approved last week a resolution easing the restrictions for local travels in any part of the country in a bid to revive the economy that was severely affected by the lockdown measures due to the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
While the restrictions were eased, JTF COVID Shield commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar said that the LGUs are still given the discretion to implement reasonable regulations of the LGUs, especially if there are existing local quarantine rules.
Eleazar said a number of Local Chief Executives (LCEs) are also requesting the national government to give them enough time to adjust to the decision in order to ensure that their areas and constituents are well-prepared in complying with the efforts of the national government to re-open the economy by allowing even non-essential travels that include tourism purposes.
“We fully understand the concerns of the Local Chief Executives during our meeting, and we appreciate and support the level of awareness and response they have been doing in the past months to protect their respective areas and their constituents from the COVID-19,” Eleazar said.
“So we will leave it to the discretion of the LGUs the implementation of the travel restrictions especially for those who are not included in the list of the Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) and the Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs). The JTF COVID Shield, in coordination with our Chief PNP General Cascolan, will assist our LGUs in the implementation of their local quarantine rules,” he added.
In a press statement, the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) headed by Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Velasco stressed the need to implement the local quarantine rules to protect their respective constituents from potential coronavirus carriers that will enter their areas.
Velasco, however, assured that they will continue to receive returning or repatriated overseas Filipino workers and LSIs provided that the non-APORs and the LSIs will comply with the basic travel requirement—the Travel Authority, Medical Clearance Certificate, and prior coordination between the point of origin LGU and the receiving LGU.
Eleazar said there may be other LGUs which are willing to immediately implement the IATF decision on “Unrestricted Policy” on travel in order to jumpstart their respective local economy, particularly tourism-related activities, amid the adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the reason, according to Eleazar, why coordination between the local police commanders and the LGUs are important to determine if there will be a status quo on the existing travel protocol amid the recent IATF decision that further eases restrictions for local travels to any part of the country.
If an LGU will choose to defer the implementation, Eleazar said the “Restricted Policy” will still be in effect wherein travellers will still need to secure a Travel Authority and other documents being asked for by the concerned LGUs.
But if an LGU will agree to the “Unrestricted Policy,” he said there is no more need for a Travel Authority even for non-essential travels.
“In the meantime, there will be a status quo on the implementation of the travel restrictions unless certain LGUs signify their intentions to immediately comply with the IATF’s Unrestricted Policy on travel,” said Eleazar.
He said police commanders were also instructed to immediately inform the JTF COVID Shield and the PNP the kind of travel protocol that their respective AORs will implement to inform the public and concerned police units, especially in the preparation of the Travel Authority for LGUs that will choose the Restricted Policy.
He also appealed to the public to check first the travel protocol in their areas of destination to avoid inconveniences.