Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Tightened regional border controls effective May 14 in Davao City

File photo

STARTING 12:01 a.m. of May 14, 2021, tourists coming from outside Davao Region visiting Davao City via land travel will have to present negative results of their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests before they will be allowed entry at the border checkpoint in Marilog District.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio issued on Saturday, May 8, an executive order adopting the Joint Regional Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases-Regional Task Force Against Covid-19 (RIATF-RTF) 11 Resolution No. 01 series of 2021.

The resolution was published on May 3 after the body approved uniform guidelines to regulate entry and exit in regional borders of the region. The guidelines will be implemented by local government units (LGUs) in Davao Region sharing a border with other regions to regulate movements "as an additional and preemptive measure against the surge of Covid-19 cases in the region."

Davao City's regional boundary is between Marilog and Bukidnon in the Northern Mindanao region.

Duterte-Carpio said in the EO that the city "is a business hub in the region and the prohibitive land travel screening that includes RT-PCR testing into the city will have a deleterious effect on the exchange of people, goods, and services."

"It is also disruptive of the daily movement of people who work and live in different LGUs [local government units] within the region," the mayor added.

The city mayor said the city government proposed to the RIATF in a letter dated April 5, 2021 to study the restoration of the region border controls for travel exclusion and come up with a unified guide for checkpoints to screen travelers that may be allowed entry into Davao Region.

According to the resolution, tourists and returning residents who are non-authorized persons outside residence (non-Apor) who will enter Davao Region will now be required to secure a negative RT-PCR test result.

Section 3 of the resolution stated that Apors, who are exempted to the mandatory RT-PCR, include health and emergency frontline services and uniformed personnel; government officials and employees on official travel and official business; and duly authorized humanitarian assistance actors, especially those transporting medical supplies and laboratory specimens related to Covid-19 and other relief and humanitarian assistance.

Returning residents of the region that are non-Apor need to secure RT-PCR test results with an accompanying identification card showing residence or any other proof of residence.

Essential travel of non-residents in the region, which includes access to essential goods and services, medical consultations, etc. will be allowed entry in the region provided that they can present any of the following: proof of appointment; medical prescription/referral; or any other document showing proof of essential transaction.

Department of Interior and Local Government-Davao Region (DILG-Davao) Director Alex Roldan, who is also the RIATF chair, recently said only LGUs through their mayors will set the date of effectivity of the regional border control within their jurisdiction through an executive order (EO). However, he urged them to issue their EOs as soon as possible.

Roldan, meanwhile, in a Facebook live interview with SunStar Davao's The Talking Heads on Friday, May 7, said the border control was issued to provide “harmonious implementation” of the protocols at the regional borders and is applicable to inter-regional movement or movement from one region to another.

He clarified that this is not a "closure" or "lockdown."

"What we are doing is not locking down or isolating Region 11 because of fear that Covid[-19] can come in. Whether we like it or not, Covid[-19] can come in, kahit na hindi mo imbitahin, papasok at papasok iyan (even if you are not going to invite it, it will eventually enter)," Roldan said.

"What we are trying to do is discourage people from wandering around all over the region, and we want to ensure that our health facilities [are capable of responding] to whatever emergencies or cases of Covid-19 sa region," he added.

Roldan said the region cannot close its entire border to other neighboring regions since it is the center of trade and commerce in Mindanao.


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