BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Returning overseas and Filipino workers are not covered by the moratorium on inbound travel to Negros Occidental, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said yesterday.
This developed after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chairperson of the National Task Force Covid-19, wrote to Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, informing him that ROFs should not be further subjected to RT-PCR tests upon their arrival, as they have already been swabbed in Manila.
While they will comply with the orders of NTF COVID 19, Diaz said they cannot refuse if there are requests from ROFs that they should be subjected to swab testing and to be quarantined, to ensure the protection of their respective families from infection by the virus.
The Regional Inter Agency Task Force has already approved the requests of 17 local government units in the province, including Bacolod City, as well as Sipalay City, Valladolid, Moises Padilla, Candoni, La Castellana, Hinobaan, Cauayan, Calatrava, Victorias City, Himamaylan City, Pontevedra, Sagay, La Carlota, Bago, Ilog and the province of Negros Occidental, for a moratorium on the arrivals of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) in their areas for varied durations, and mostly until Jan. 5.
The concerned LGUs cited the congestion of their quarantine centers, and for disinfection purposes, as well as to give frontliners much-needed rest, as among the reasons for requesting the moratorium.
FLIGHTS TO CONTINUE
Diaz, however, said that there are still LGUs accepting LSIs, and flights into Negros Occidental will continue, except on Dec. 24, 25, and 31 and on Jan. 1.
“We do not only cater to those coming into the province, but also those who want to fly out. Others want to fly out to report for work after Christmas, or go back to their jobs abroad,” Diaz said.
Regardless of the moratorium granted to some LGUs, Diaz said they cannot refuse ROFs, including balikbayans.
“We cannot stop them midway to Manila or Cebu,” he stressed.
In case they are not accommodated in their respective LGUs, Diaz said the provincial government will accommodate them.
For LSIs affected by the moratoriums in their respective LGUs, Diaz advised them to make arrangements, either come home before the ban is implemented, or go home when it is lifted.
NO ADDITIONAL FLIGHTS
Diaz also said the provincial government cannot grant the request of airline companies to have additional flights to Negros Occidental.
“By allowing them, we will have an influx of people, and it will create a problem,” he added.
As to the suspension of inbound travel to some Negros Occidental LGUs from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3, Diaz said there have been suggestions from airline companies to schedule more incoming flights on Dec. 20, that is Sunday, that accommodate outgoing flights. Diaz said the moratorium approved by the RIATF “is favorable to the airlines and passengers.”*