BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The provincial government of Negros Occidental has subjected to swab testing 228 overseas Filipino workers upon arrival at the Bacolod–Silay Airport on April 11, even as the Inter-Agency Task Force has yet to reply to its request for mandatory Covid-19 testing of all travelers to the province.
It was done voluntarily on the part of the arriving OFWs, Provincial Incident Management Team head, Dr. Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian, said yesterday.
Caelian, who had just recovered from Covid-19 infection, said that majority of arriving OFWs have expired negative RT-PCR test results.
Concerned local government units fetched their OFWs from the airport for quarantine until they are declared Covid-19 free, he said.
Under IATF Resolution 101, mandatory swab testing and quarantine are no longer required for inbound travelers, unless needed by concerned LGUs. The IATF resolution has been partly blamed by Negros Occidental officials for the rapid surge of Covid cases in the province.
The provincial government said that swab testing upon entry to the province is still purely voluntary on the part of inbound travelers, as of this time.
Caelian said they were expecting the arrivals of 99 passengers from Manila on board a 2Go passenger vessel at the Bredco Port in Bacolod City, and two commercial flights from Cebu and Manila, before the seven-day travel moratorium to Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, takes effect today.
Some 107 Bacolodnon OFWs arrived at the Bacolod-Silay Airport from two flights on Sunday, the day after the initial travel moratorium has lapsed.
The first flight was from Air Asia that landed at around 2:15 p.m. with 55 OWFs while the second flight was Philippine Airlines at 5:15 p.m. with 52 OFWs.
Members of the city Action Team on Returning OFWs (ATRO), headed by Councilor Israel Salanga, assisted the OFWs and briefed them on the existing guidelines and protocols.
Personnel of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office disinfected their bags and luggage upon disembarkation as part of precautionary measures in battling the Covid pandemic.
The City has been providing transport services to all returning OFWs through its own bus to transport them from the airport to the last point of their destinations, the DRRMO said.
FAKE RT-PCR RESULTS
The proliferation of fake negative RT-PCR results as reported earlier by the provincial government of Negros Occidental was further bolstered by an advisory issued by the Philippine Airlines, that said it prevented at least 15 individuals from boarding, after they were found to have presented fraudulent Covid-19 test results at the airport check-in counters.
PAL said that the police is filing charges against them for falsification of public documents and violation of Republic Act 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act. If found guilty, they may each face penalties of up to P50,000, or imprisonment of one to six months, it added.*