The Philippine National Police (PNP) will no longer issue a Travel Authority after the national government has eased the travel restrictions in any part of the country by cancelling the usual travel requirements that also include a medical certificate.
Instead, policemen manning the border control points will only look for the negative result of the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) before they would allow anybody to enter a town, city or provinces.
The RT-PCR requirement, however, still depends on the decision of the Local Government Units. In the case of Cebu province for instance, all the travel requirements were already lifted in a bid to revive its economy as a result of the lockdown measures since March last year.
Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, deputy chief for Operations of the PNP and the concurrent commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield, said he will be issuing a memorandum to all the police units across the country with regard to the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to lift the requirement for Travel Authority and the medical clearance certificate.
The Travel Authority is issued by PNP units with the authority from the JTF COVID Shield while the medical clearance certificate is issued by the Municipal or City Health Office. But before a Travel Authority is issued, a medical clearance certificate is required.
Binag said there will be some adjustments for travel based on the new resolution issued by the IATF-MEID.
“But we advised our commanders to regularly coordinate with their respective LGUs for the proper implementation of the travel restrictions and quarantine protocols,” Binag told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.
Part of the coordination, according to Binag, is the proper checking of the signs and symptoms and other quarantine rules-related measures with the help of the health officials of the LGUs and other government agencies.
In airports and seaports, Binag said the PNP’s role would be in support of the concerned government agencies.
In a statement issued on Monday, March 1, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) confirmed that the Travel Authority and the medical clearance certificate were already removed in order to harmonize national travel.
“If the LGU of destination requires a test, it shall only require a Reverse-Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test and no other. Meaning, LGUs cannot require Antigen tests or rapid tests as test requirements prior to travel,” said DILG spokesman and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya.
Citing Resolution 101 of the IATF-MEID, Malaya said the intention of the removal of the two travel requirements is meant to streamline travel protocols as different LGUs have been implementing their respective quarantine rules.
“The new protocols are applicable to all LGUs across the country and he enjoined all LGUs to comply with the new regulations issued by the IATF,” said Malaya.
What the LGUs should do, according to Binag, is to conduct health assessment of the arriving passengers by medical professionals at the entry points of their areas and strict implementation of the minimum health safety protocols such as social distancing, wearing of a face mask and a face shield.
Those classified as Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs), according to Malaya, from national government agencies and attached agencies shall provide their identification card, travel order, and travel itinerary, and must pass symptom-screening at ports of entry and exit pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 98-A issued on February 4, 2021.
For ports and terminals, Malaya said all must have assigned sufficient quarantine facilities. A referral system must be in place wherein travelers who become symptomatic shall be transferred to quarantine or isolation facilities to enable the Bureau of Quarantine for airports, or local health officials in case of LGUs, to take over.
“For the National Capital Region, all buses bound for provinces shall be required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the central hub for transportation. No bus company or public transport shall be allowed to use their private terminals,” said Malaya.
“LGUs, at their option, may provide transportation for all travelers who are transiting from one LGU to another in cases of arrivals at air and seaports to their end-point destinations,” he added.
But both Binag and Malaya advised the public to check first their LGU of destination before going to travel in order to ensure a smooth trip.