The League of Provinces of the Philippines or LPP, representing the 81 provincial governments throughout the country, clarified that under the newly-issued IATF Resolution No. 79, non-APORS or non-authorized persons outside residence, including the locally stranded individuals or LSIs seeking entry into any province may still be “subject to the reasonable regulations imposed by the LGU concerned, if any.”
This was affirmed by JTF Covid-Shield Commander, Police Lt. General Guillermo Eleazar, who briefed some local officials and the focal persons of the provincial governments on the IATF amendments last 17 October during an online meeting with the leagues. Gen. Eleazar said that “under the amended IATF guidelines, the travel of non-APORs, including the LSIs, are permitted but are still subject to the LGUs’ reasonable regulations, if any.” During the meeting, some focal persons expressed concerns that they still need time to consult with their counterparts from the cities and municipalities within their jurisdiction whether to adopt either a “restrictive” or “non-restrictive” local travel to aid the public and for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to determine which of the LGUs will ease the twin-requirements of Medical Clearance Certification (MCC) and Travel Authority (TA) for non-APORs and locally stranded individuals or LSIs, seeking entry into any province for any purpose. He noted that some provinces wanted to maintain status quo until 2 November 2020 to make a determination to avoid the possible sudden influx of people going to provinces for All Saints’ Day.
LPP President, Marinduque Governor, Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., said that the basis for these local regulations is the NTF’s Refined Operational Guidelines on Management of Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs), dated July 24, 2020, issued by Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, Chief of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, more particularly section 7.l.3, require LSIs to obtain the Medical Clearance Certification (MCC) and the Travel Authority (TA) from the sending LGU. Despite the preconditions set for the entry of LSIs to the receiving LGU, there was an influx of a big number of said LSIs entering the provinces, some of whom have been found to be infected of Covid-19. This infection has resulted to an alarming local transmission of the dreaded virus to the residents of the receiving LGUs. The League, therefore, previously recommended the PCR or rapid test of the LSIs at the sending LGUs parallel to the tests done on OFWs and ROFs to prevent the spread of the virus.
On October 15, 2020, the IATF-MEID issued Resolution No. 79 providing, among others, that “the movement of the following authorized persons outside the residences (APOR) within or across areas placed under any form of community quarantine shall be permitted” under the amended section 7 on the Guidelines for Interzonal and Intrazonal Movement. Section 2 reads:
“2. The movement of the following authorized persons outside their residences (APOR) within or across areas placed under any form of community quarantine shall be permitted: l) health and emergency frontline services personnel; 2) government officials and government frontline services personnel; 3) duly authorized humanitarian assistance actors (HAAS); 4. Persons travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons; 5) persons going to the airport for travel abroad; 6) anyone crossing zones for work or business permitted in the zone of destination and going back home. The following persons shall also be considered as APOR: a) returning or repatriated OFWs and other Overseas Filipinos (OFs) returning to their places of residence and b) other persons transported through the efforts of the national government upon observance of the necessary quarantine protocols and with the concurrence of the receiving LGUs. x x x ”
LPP President Gov. Velasco expressed the league’s position that it has allowed and will continue to allow the entry of OFWs, ROFs and LSIs to the territories of the receiving LGUs pursuant to the latest resolution and guidelines of the IATF, NTF, and DILG advisories that the entry of the non-APORs and LSIs cannot be denied by the LGUs. The non-APORs and LSIs, however, remain subject to compliance with the two basic requirements currently being implemented by the LGUs, i.e. the medical clearance certification (MCC) and travel authority (TA) pursuant to the NTF’s Refined Operational Guidelines on LSIs unless the LGU itself waives the submission of said requirements.
The MCC is a minimal requirement to ensure that the individual is not infected while the TA is required for efficient scheduling of the entry and proper coordination with the receiving LGU. The entry of LSIs, whether considered as APORs or non-APORS, shall still be status quo or subject to the “concurrence of the receiving LGUs” through prior communication with the focal persons (FPs) of the concerned provincial and city governments through their hotlines to coordinate the date of their entry, unless the LGU will no longer require these. The LGUs’ concurrence is needed to ensure adequacy of the quarantine areas of the receiving LGUs if the local health protocols require mandatory 14-day quarantine. Velasco urged LGUs to make their own public pronouncements and immediately submit to DILG their local regulations for the proper information and guidance of the general public.
More importantly, Velasco added that section 2 of the October 15, 2020 Resolution clearly states that the receiving LGUs may impose the “necessary quarantine protocols” in their respective territories. In addition, sections 3 and 4 of said IATF resolution recognize the power of the receiving LGUs to impose “reasonable regulations” on the stay and activities of OFWs, ROFs, LSIs, APORS and non-APORS. The receiving LGUs can also require the LSIs to be subjected to PCR test upon entry provided the cost of the PCR test is shouldered by the receiving LGU pursuant to a DILG advisory.
The LPP assured President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the IATF-MEID and the NTF that its stands four-square behind the policy of the national government to reopen and revive the economy, particularly the tourism industry while minimizing, at the same time, the risks of further COVID -19 transmission in the country on its way to recovery.