AS PART of its stricter border control measure, the Davao City Government is planning to require all inbound returning residents and non-essential travelers coming from outside Davao Region who are traveling by land to submit a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result before entering the city.
City Health Office (CHO) Acting Head Dr. Ashley Lopez said in a radio interview on Wednesday, April 28, that the proposed measure was presented during a meeting with the Davao City Covid-19 Task Force, where Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio lobbied for additional stricter border control in the city.
This came after Covid-19 cases in some parts of the country continued to increase and the recent discovery of new Covid-19 variants in neighboring provinces in Mindanao.
Lopez said once approved, all land travelers coming from outside the region will now be required to secure a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours from the point of origin.
"Tanan nga musulod (All people entering the city), whether Apor [authorized persons outside residence] or non-Apor, required og RT-PCR maski asa ka gikan. Basta gikan ka gawas sa Davao Region, kinahanglan kag RT-PCR (we will require them a mandatory RT-PCR test as long as they come outside Davao Region),” he said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.
Lopez said there is a need to strictly monitor all land travelers coming in the city after receiving reports that travelers coming from high-risk cities and provinces are sneaking into the city by landing at a different airport or traveling by land to return to or pass by Davao City.
He said some passengers tend to avoid traveling via air to avoid spending for the RT-PCR test.
"Wala man ta problema sa air ug sea kay strikto man ta diha. Whereas, diri sa atong landover, usahay ang uban munaog og Cebu, ug munaog og Agusan or Butuan, mag-by land sila padulong og Davao para dili sila masakpan, or aron dili sila maka-RT-PCR kay mamahalan daw sila sa RT-PCR (We have no problem with the air and sea travel. In the case of land travelers, some who came from Cebu would land in Agusan or Butuan, then they would travel by land to Davao so that they will not get caught or will not be required to submit RT-PCR test)," he said.
Lopez said the mayor is expected to issue another executive order in the coming days.
He added that Davao City residents who travelled outside the region via land will also be required with the mandatory test.
Lopez said they are currently studying the proposed measure.
"Ginastudyohan pa na sa Legal, because there are a lot of considerations nga kinahanglan tan-awon especially sa atong returning residents. Dili man gud tanang probinsya naay testing center (The legal team is studying it right now because there are a lot of things we have to take into consideration, especially for our returning residents. One of those is that not all provinces have a testing facility)," he said.
Currently, the Davao City Government requires all air passengers entering the city through Francisco Bangoy International Airport, also known as Davao International Airport, to submit an RT-PCR test, in accordance with City Ordinance 0477-21, Series of 2021.
Meanwhile, Lopez said Davao City remains to have zero active cases of the new variant.
Although he said they are constantly sending specimens to the Philippine Genome Center in Manila for genomic sequencing, a process to determine if the specimen is a mutated variant.
Duterte-Carpio said Monday, April 26, that the City Government has appealed to the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) Against Covid-19 for the entire Davao Region to be placed under a "semi-closed border."
In a previous radio interview, Duterte-Carpio said the appeal is based on the recommendation of the Department of Health-Davao Region to impose stringent screening measures in border checkpoints within the region.
Aside from the proposed "semi-closed border" in the entire Davao Region, Department of the Interior and Local Government-Davao Director Alex Roldan said the mayor also requested for the imposition of regulations on the entry of private vehicles, by imposing an "odd-even” number scheme on the plate numbers upon entry in the region.
Meanwhile, Lopez said the city will continue to intensify its quarantine measures, and surveillance testing despite.