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Negros Occ., Bacolod in spat over S-PaSS

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The provincial government of Negros Occidental yesterday stood pat in its decision of requiring S-PaSS to all inbound travelers.

This comes after Emergency Operations Center – Task Force Executive Director Em Legaspi-Ang and Bacolod City Councilor Cindy Rojas announced in their respective social media accounts that an S-PaSS is no longer required for fully-vaccinated, Bacolod-bound passengers travelling by land, sea or air.

S-PaSS is the Safe, Swift and Smart way to facilitate travels to provinces and cities with travel restriction. Negros Occidental and highly-urbanized Bacolod City are both under Alert Level 2.

Ang, in her Facebook Page post, reiterated that all fully-vaccinated passengers only need to present their vaccination card when traveling to Bacolod City.

Rojas, on the other hand, said that Bacolod City travelers, whether returning residents or Overseas Workers, APOR (Authorized Person Outside Residence), or those visiting Bacolod City, need only to present fully vaccinated cards.

Provincial Inter Agency Task Force action officer Rayfrando Diaz, however, questioned the declarations made by Ang and Bacolod City Councilor Cindy Rojas, stressing that the S-PaSS is the mode by which travelers are able to upload all of their documentations for proper recordings, where vaccination cards and negative RT-PCR test results are being checked.

As stipulated in the executive order issued by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, S-PaSS will be checked upon arrival at any point of entry in Negros Occidental, regardless of destination, which is in harmony of the National Inter Agency Task Force resolution 101, Diaz said.

The NIATF did not lift the S-PaSS requirements, he also stressed, adding that “we are trying to protect the safety of our passengers and also all residents of Negros Occidental, including that of Bacolod City”.

Ang earlier reminded port managers to follow the guidelines set by Executive Order No. 53 issued by Mayor Evelio Leonardia that allows travel into Bacolod City without the need for an S-PaSS since the local government was placed under Alert Level 2 from November 15 to 30.

I think the announcements of Ang and Rojas are all misleading, Diaz claimed, adding they want passengers to believe that Bacolod City is safe, and there is no need for S-PaSS anymore.

He maintained that it is “unwise”, as of this time, to waive the S-PaSS requirements, stressing that Alert Level 2 classification is only temporary, as it might be changed later.

It is not wise for us to let our guards down, and allow unimpeded travel without protocols, Diaz said.

As stipulated also in the NIATF issued rules and regulations, he stressed that if a traveler has to pass through different local government units, he cannot disregard the protocols of LGUs.

The Bacolod-Silay Airport is located in Silay City, which is among the component cities of Negros Occidental, while Bacolod is a highly-urbanized city.

If you check the S-PaSS application, Diaz said Bacolod City is still under restricted classification.

“If they are ‘restricted’ then these things will have to be complied with. If they are ‘unrestricted’ then we would not have any problem approving the permits of all the passengers going to Bacolod City,” he stressed.

If Bacolod City does not want to take care of S-PaSS approval, then the province of Negros Occidental is willing to process it without delay, without sacrificing also its health protocols, Diaz said, as he suggested them to use Silay City as their travel destination.

As the province insists on requiring Bacolod travelers to have S-PaSS, Rojas, in her Facebook account, announced that her office is still approving S-PaSS “because somebody is not listening to reason.”*

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