JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar yesterday said travelers should secure a travel pass-through permit (TPP) from police stations if they are passing through areas where travels are still restricted.
While the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has lifted travel restrictions for all local travels, Eleazar said local government units (LGUs) are authorized to impose their own entry-exit restrictions and require travel documents if they so decide, especially if the number of COVID-19 infections in their jurisdiction are high.
Eleazar said a TPP can be easily secured because no documentary requirement is needed to get one, which is unlike with the travel pass which requires travelers to present a medical certificate proving they are negative of the disease.
“Unlike a travel authority, there is no requirement in getting a TPP. This document will be presented to policemen manning the quarantine control points, or border control checkpoints, to allow them to pass even if there are travel restrictions being implemented in LGUs with restricted status,” said Eleazar.
Members of the Authorized Persons Outside of Residents (APOR), including medical front liners and workers from permitted industries, are not required to secure a TPP or even a travel authority if their travel is work-related.
“In order to ensure hassle-free travel, non-APORs should secure a TPP before their travel because they might be barred from passing through an LGU or LGUs with restricted travel policy. The TPP will spare them from this kind of scenario,” said Eleazar, who is also the PNP deputy chief for administration.
Eleazar said PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan has already given instructions to police commanders “to ensure that the TPP would immediately be available upon request” but added “they should maintain a record for reference.”
To travelers who are bound to areas that are under lock down and are requiring travel authority, Eleazar they have no choice but to secure a travel authority.
“If you are going to an area or passing areas that are unrestricted, you are not required to secure travel authority. But if you are going to an area that’s still restricted, you need travel authority,” he said, adding: “If you are going to an area that’s unrestricted but you are passing an area or areas that are still restricted, you need a TPP. That is the concept of this new concept which we call TPP or travel pass-through permit.”
Meanwhile, Interior department undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said 1,751 apprehended quarantine violators remain detained while 124,576 others have already been released.
“The remaining suspects under detention were not detained since March. The numbers of detained is a moving number, it goes up and down because many are released but some are arrested and charged on a daily basis all over the country,” said Malaya.
Malaya said the released violators were freed in line with the call of Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta for all judges to order the release of detained quarantine violators on recognizance in an effort to decongest PNP detention facilities.
As to those who are still under detention, Malaya said: “They are detained for cause, they underwent inquest proceeding before a public prosecutor and they will be released if ordered by the courts.”
About 350,000 other quarantine violators were merely warned or fined by authorities.
Immigration Commission Jaime Morente yesterday said the antigen test requirement for outbound travel will be lifted starting November 1. Filipino travelers, though, still need to prepare a negative COVID-19 certification if their country of destination requires ones.
Morente also reminded the public that other travel requirements listed by the IATF still needs to be presented.
“A round-trip ticket will still be required for those who will be leaving under a tourist visa.
Travelers will likewise be required to sign a declaration acknowledging the risk of traveling, which will be given to them by the airline upon check-in,” Morente said.
The IATF on October 21 has already allowed the outbound travel of Filipinos even for non-essential trips.
Morente also said that restrictions for arriving passengers have also been partially lifted.
Staring November 1, foreign nationals with visas pursuant to Executive Order No. 226 as amended by Republic Act 8756, as well as those with 47a (2) visas will be allowed entry to the country.
The same will also be extended to holders of visas issued by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority.
Foreign nationals with visas under EO226 are those working as personnel or executives of multinational corporations while those with 47a (2) visas are special non-immigrants whose visas are granted by the Department of Justice.
Previously, only Filipinos, their spouse and minor children, foreign children with special needs of Filipinos, foreign parent of minor Filipinos, and foreign parent of Filipino children with special needs were allowed to enter the country as part of the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Those who are eligible to enter the country under tourist status are still required to secure an entry visa from Philippine embassies or consulates.
Officials of accredited foreign government and international organizations and their dependents, foreign airline crew members, foreign seafarers and foreigners with long-term visas are also allowed entry.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, concurrent IATF co-chairman, on Saturday night said the government is “gradually calibrating” the lifting of the ban on inbound travel of foreigners to the Philippines to ensure that the carrying capacity of airlines and health care capacity in the country is not overwhelmed especially with the nearing holiday season.
Nograles, in his Karlo Nograles Live program over Facebook, said the government had received a lot of requests for either the lifting of the ban on inbound travel or exemption of their sector.
He said the request came from several industries including foreign investors and tourism sector players and not just limited to the “Love Tourism” group or the sector composed of Filipinos with foreign partners.
He again appealed for everyone’s patience and understanding as the technical working group of the IATF continues its study the issue.
Nograles said the government had to resort to a calibrated or gradual lifting of the ban on inbound travel because a total lifting of ban can lead to an overwhelming of the airline carrying capacity as well as the available health care system in the country especially with many Filipinos expected to return to the country during the holidays.
Prior to this, the government had approved the outbound travel of Filipinos regardless of the purpose of their trip but subject to certain conditions like submitting confirmed round-trip tickets, travel and health insurance to cover hospitalization in case of COVID-19 infections while abroad; and issuance of a Bureau of Immigration declaration acknowledging the risks involved in travelling.
Nograles said the IATF will meet on Monday and start discussions on the different quarantine levels in the country including Metro Manila starting November 1.
He said he could not say if the current general community quarantine (GCQ) in the region would be retained or downgraded to a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
He said as their usual practice at the IATF all factors would be considered and a “soft recommendation” would be made where local government units affected by the different quarantine levels are alerted and given a chance to appeal before a final recommendation is submitted to President Duterte for his approval. – With Ashzel Hachero and Jocelyn Montemayor