SENATE President Vicente Sotto III has asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to review and adjust the government’s quarantine protocols for Filipinos coming home or travelling to the Philippines amid the continued threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Sotto noted the expenses that inbound Filipino travelers incur to comply with the stringent requirements of the IATF.
“We have received feedback from returning Filipinos that they are forced to shell out tens of thousands of pesos for the mandatory 14-day quarantine and swab testing before they are allowed to go home or proceed to their city or province of destination. This is not only inconvenient but unnecessary as well,” Sotto said.
The Senate leader cited information from a staff of Sen. Panfilo Lacson who returned to the country earlier this year from a visit to the United States. Upon the employee’s return, she said she was required to pay P2,000 for the van that brought her from the airport to a hotel that served as a government quarantine facility, where she stayed for six nights and paid P10,000 per night or a total of P60,000. She likewise spent P4,500 for her RT-PCR swab test. Her expenses added up to more than P80,000, inclusive of food and other personal needs.
“Ang laki ng ginagastos ng ating mga kababayan na umuuwi dito sa ating bansa na nagnanais lamang na makasama ang kanilang mga pamilya. Hindi ito katanggap-tanggap. Kung hindi kaya ng gobyerno na sagutin ang gastusin para sa quarantine and swab testing requirements, kailangan nilang i-adjust ang guidelines nang sa gayon ay hindi naman masyadong mabigat sa bulsa ang pagsunod sa mga patakaran ng pamahalaan,” Sotto said.
“I appeal to the IATF together with DOLE, DFA and OWWA to sit down with our OFW groups and formulate an “Oplan Pasko” so that our OFWs come home this Christmas,” he added.
Sotto likewise suggested that the government look at the United States’ policy on inbound travelers and possibly adopt a similar system.
Citing information gathered by his office, Sotto said travelers who arrive in America are asked whether or not they have been fully vaccinated. If the response is in the affirmative, the visitor is allowed to proceed to his or her destination. If in the negative, he/she is asked if he/she wants to be vaccinated. Those who wish to be inoculated are given jabs at the airport, while those who refuse the offer are allowed to leave.
“Pag-aralan natin kung maaaring ma-adopt natin ang ganitong sistema. Sa ganitong paraan, mas maraming mae-engganyo ang galing sa ibang bansa na wala masyadong kaso ng Covid-19 ang pumunta na dito sa ating bansa. Makatutulong ito sa mas mabilis na economic recovery ng Pilipinas,” Sotto said.