Duterte to sack airport personnel who allowed travelers to skip protocols, slip into the country

Airport personnel may face removal from their posts if they allow travelers to easily slip into the country despite the health protocols against the coronavirus outbreak, President Duterte said Monday night.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

The President warned that he would replace the erring airport personnel and assign them to the provinces if he learns just one incident of unauthorized travel.

"There are reports that some people are skipping, na nakakalusot sila with the help of airport personnel at sa mga barko. I say this now as I have said it before: Do not do it kasi mayayari talaga kayo (because you will be punished)," he said in his televised address.

"You do it by allowing unauthorized travel when all of us are really worried of containing the contamination, na ikontrol in and out. Almost every country now is controlling the entry and the departure of their citizens," he added.

According to the President, unauthorized travel could only happen with the "handiwork of maybe a few, not all" airport personnel “making it easy” for the traveler to skip health protocols such as COVID testing. He cautioned that they could suffer the same fate as the immigration personnel who were dismissed over alleged involvement in the pastillas scam where Chinese travelers were allowed unimpeded entry into the country in exchange for grease money.

"At iyong mga taga airport, alam mo, hindi ba ninyo nahalata na lahat ng --- lahat ng Immigration personnel diyan, about 42 of them at marami pang iba ang na-dismiss sa trabaho. Gusto ninyo ulitin ko ‘yan? (To the airport personnel, haven't you noticed that all immigration personnel there, about 42 of them and others have been dismissed from their jobs. Do you want me to do it again?)," he asked.

Duterte said he could easily assign new government personnel to man the country's main airport to replace those who are allowing travelers to skip health protocols.

"Look, kayong mga taga health diyan, sa mga taga-quarantine, pagka may na --- may nahuli lang ako na isa, I will --- lahat kayo palitan ko (To the health, quarantine personnel there, if I catch just one, I will replace all of you). I will assign you to the provinces and I will get the new ones from the other --- assigned in other cities also. Magpalit kayo (You swap places)," he said. "I do not care if kasali ka diyan sa hindi kasi racket ‘yan eh (I do not care if you're involved or not in the racket)," he added.

The President also issued a warning to travelers against getting fake health certificates when passing the county's borders.

"Do not go into this rigmarole of, you know, magsabi ka doon na tapos na, ganoon, ganoon or you bring your fake certificates. Iyan --- iyan talaga ang maghanap kayo ng gulo (Do not go into this rigmarole of , you know, saying you've completed this or that or you bring your fake certificates. You'll just find trouble)," he said.

The government has prohibited the entry of travelers from the United Kingdom, United States and 19 other countries and territories with reported cases of the new coronavirus strain until Jan.15, 2021. Filipinos are allowed to return to the country but must undergo coronavirus testing and facility-based quarantine.