THE Inter-Agency Task Forces on Emerging Infectious Disease of two Negros provinces have issued guidelines for migratory sugarcane workers (MSWs) traveling from Negros Occidental to Negros Oriental and vice versa for the crop year 2020 to 2021.
In a joint memorandum signed by Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on September 21, the two provincial governments set the guidelines to facilitate the immediate processing of sugarcane workers in the island.
In the said memorandum, MSWs shall be considered as authorized persons outside residence (Apors) since the sugar industry is classified as an essential industry.
Individual planters should submit the list of MSWs, which they require for sugar crop year 2020 to 2021, to their respective planters association.
The list should contain information like the individual name of workers and their PhilHealth number (if applicable), basic personal information, place of assignment, as well as preferred date of entry to Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
Based on the guidelines, the planters association shall screen the list of MSWs to determine the PhilHealth members and non-members for purposes of compliance with the order dated August 6, issued by Lacson, requiring workers to undergo mandatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing upon entry.
It stated planters association should submit the list of the MSWs to the Provincial Incident Management Team (PIMT), which will schedule their eventual entry to Negros Occidental.
"The official schedule and number of trips shall be determined by the RT-PCR testing capacity of the province," it said, adding that "prior thereto, the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental shall issue a letter of acceptance through the planters association and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of both provinces."
For MSWs from Negros Oriental, they will have as point of entry Barangay Tagukon in Kabankalan City, Barangay Masulog in La Castellana and Barangay Buluangan in San Carlos City.
These MSWs will be subjected to RT-PCR testing at the said point of entries before they will be allowed to proceed to their point of destination.
To allow the Provincial Health Office to conduct swabbing at the said point entry, Negros Oriental shall be scheduled only on Saturdays and Sundays.
The memorandum also stated that upon arrival, MSWs will be subjected under mandatory quarantine at haciendas until the result of their RT-PCR test will be released. Those who test negative will be allowed to work.
At the end of their engagement as sugarcane cutters, MSWs must exit Negros Occidental and reenter Negros Oriental in the same area where they came in.
At such time, Negros Oriental is given the option of whether to require RT-PCR testing or not, depending on the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) situation.
"No temporary weekend furloughs for MSWs shall be allowed. Any MSWs who goes home for the weekend shall be subjected to the same entry protocol as provided in these guidelines," it added.