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S-PaSS issue now settled – Diaz

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The S-PaSS issue is now resolved and settled.

The declaration was made yesterday by Provincial Inter Agency Task Force action officer Rayfrando Diaz after the Department of Interior and Local Government in Western Visayas issued a statement that the provincial government of Negros Occidental can require an S-PaSS for their local government units.

There is nothing more to discuss, Diaz stressed.

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia earlier wrote a letter asking DILG regional director Juan Jovian Ingeniero, to issue an order stopping the provincial government of Negros Occidental from implementing the SPASS (Swift, Safe, Smart Passage) requirement for Bacolod-bound travelers via different airline companies.

The dispute between the Bacolod City government and the provincial government of Negros Occidental stemmed from the latter’s non-recognition of Leonardia’s Executive Order 53 issued November 14 following the downgrading of Bacolod from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 2 effective November 15-30 by the National IATF.

Contrary to Diaz’s claims that EO 53 is illegal, Leonardia, in his letter to Ingeniero, said that his order is in conformity and in compliance with the “Guidelines on the Implementation of Alert Level System for COVID-19 Response in Pilot Areas as of October 13, 2021” issued by the NIATF.

In a text message, Ingeniero said that they already provided the city government of Bacolod “the policy direction towards the use of S-PaSS based on the existing IATF Resolution.”

In as far as the Regional Inter Agency Task Force is concerned, we are in abeyance to the policy set by the IATF on the use of S-PaSS; in which the LGUs have the means to set depending on their travel restriction, he stressed, adding that “this remains as our basis in guiding our LGUs in crafting their local guidelines.”

We are cognizant of the intention of Bacolod City to ease the travel requirements for those going there, but there are means to do this, while in line with the policy set by the national government, Ingeniero said.

Diaz said it was proven that it was not the provincial government who misinformed the airline passengers.

“We always take care of our passengers, making sure that they catch their flight and make sure that they are comfortable in their travel,” he stressed.

Diaz said that the Philippine Air Lines established help desk at the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) to assist passengers in S-PaSS application, aside from the Malasakit help desks, where they are being advised to seek help if there is a problem regarding their travel.

We will only improve, but not scrap the S-PaSS, or do away something that is effective in screening passengers going to Negros Occidental, he also said.

S-PASS WITH FALSE INFORMATION

Diaz also clarified that the provincial government of Negros Occidental has not approved any S-PaSS with false information, contrary to claims.

Executive Director Em Ang of the Bacolod’s Emergency Operations Task Force questioned the advisory issued by the Philippine Air Lines that requires Bacolod City residents to declare that they are residents of Brgy. Airport in Silay City, in applying for an S-PaSS.

Ang pointed out that the PAL memo, which many called a “joke”, is tantamount to instructing inbound travelers to lie by supplying fake or false information on an official government platform.

Diaz said that the province did not approve the S-PaSS application of John Orola because of the fake address.

Orola is a gubernatorial candidate for Negros Occidental.*

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