BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Rayfrando Diaz yesterday blamed the “unrestricted travel” for what seemed to be a culprit behind the increase of Covid-19 active cases in Negros Occidental, based on Resolution 101 issued by the National Inter Agency Task Force.
Provincial Administrator Diaz said that he and the Provincial Incident Management Team will recommend to Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson the use of old protocol, in screening inbound travelers to the province, that subjected them to swab testing and quarantine, upon arrival at the ports or airport pending the release of results.
When the new executive order comes out April 1, Diaz said “ We will insist on reverting to our local protocols, that was hassle-free, and will lessen then entry of unscreened Locally Stranded Individuals”.
“We had a safer place before, now, we are living under the threat of Covid-19, infecting us and our families,” he said.
The unrestricted travel for local government units to comply with, based on NIATF resolution 101, was also taken advantage of by some unscrupulous individuals, who engaged in the manufacture of fake negative RT-PCR results, that are required by LGUs for inbound travelers.
Eight residents of Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental, were discovered to have used fake negative RT-PCR results, that they bought for P900 each at the port of origin in Manila, without undergoing swab testing, in order to return home.
Diaz said they are looking into the possibility of taking legal action against those Kabankalan City residents, who are liable for violation of health protocols and falsification of public documents.
There is no substitute for allowing us in Negros Occidental to do swabbing and testing, because we have our own molecular laboratory, he stressed.
Under the new set up, inbound travelers are required to present negative RT-PCR results, among the requirements for entry to the province, that is an additional expense for them.
The provincial government of Negros Occidental, meanwhile, is not charging a single centavo for inbound travelers, if they are subjected to swab testing, upon their arrival, before the adoption of NIATF resolution number 101.
There is no better way, and better time to conduct the test, than at the point of entry, when they have not yet reached their families and friends, Diaz said.
As of March 24, Negros Occidental has 403 active cases, including 135 in Bacolod City. The Cadiz City Hall was also placed on lockdown after some its employees, including two police officers, were infected by the virus.
Diaz said that NIATF resolution 101 came “ out of timing”, and without respect to the effects of Covid-19, and that “We have not learned our lessons from other countries, or experiences in the local”.
He maintained that the system of the provincial government in dealing with inbound travelers worked for eight months in reducing Covid-19 cases, as residents kept on flying, and sailing in and out of the province.
“But now that there is unrestricted travel, this is our situation. We are now suffering the effects of the 101 resolution,” Diaz said.
He added that LGUs are now defenseless and vulnerable with the implementation of the NIATF resolution, as they are also implementing their own protocols to stop the spread of Covid 19 infections, in their areas.*