DOT files raps vs. Boracay tourists who forged COVID-19 test results

Published February 15, 2021, 11:32 AM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has filed charges against errant tourists who were nabbed in Boracay last month for faking their coronavirus disease (COVID-19) swab test results.

(Pia Miraflores via Tara Yap / MANILA BULLETIN)

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Monday, Feb. 15, that the DOT Region VI- Boracay Field and Compliance Monitoring Office (BFCMO) filed cases of falsification of public documents against the six Manila-based tourists.

“This is how serious the DOT is in the enforcement of existing health and safety rules,” Puyat said.

The DOT confirmed last January that three out of the six tourists who falsified their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests actually tested positive for COVID-19.

The infected tourists have been brought to the Aklan Training Center (ATC) in Kalibo town for quarantine along with their companions who also forged their RT-PCR tests but tested negative upon confirmation.

A negative RT-PCR test result released within 72 hours is one of the travel requirements needed for tourists going to Boracay.

The tourism chief also emphasized the need to tighten the registration procedure for travelers such as the validation of the submitted COVID-19 test results and hotel bookings.  

According to the tourism department, there are about 10 to 12 validation and monitoring officers working per shift on two shifts a day, seven days a week. These officers verify the required documents before a QR code is given to tourists.

Based on the data from the Malay Municipal Tourism Office, Boracay received 11,898 visitors last January alone, with an average of 300 to 400 tourists a day.

With the recent decision of the government’s pandemic task force to allow the resumption of operations of several tourism establishments even under stricter quarantine status, Puyat urged local government units (LGUs) to be ready for a possible surge in the number of tourists.

“In anticipation of the further relaxation of regulations governing inter-regional and intra-regional movements, the LGUs should be prepared to address an increase in the number of applications and visits. Enforcement is key and we must all do our share in keeping Boracay safe,” the secretary added.

Meanwhile, the DOT regional office in Western Visayas said it will continue to work closely with the LGUs of Aklan and Malay to ensure enforcement of minimum health and safety protocols among accredited accommodation establishments and other tourism enterprises in the island.