BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental border may be opened soon.
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, however, said yesterday that those coming from Region 7, including Negros Oriental, will still be required a negative RT-PCR test results, 72 hours prior to their arrival, and registration in the S-Pass (Safe, Swift and Smart Passage) travel management system.
Similar requirements are also being imposed by the provincial government of Negros Occidental on inbound travelers from Manila, as stipulated in the executive order issued by Lacson, which took effect yesterday.
But Negros Oriental is not requiring travelers to present negative RT-PCR test results, except if they show signs of influenza-illness symptoms.
There is no need for negative RT-PCR test results for travelers within Region 6, Lacson said.
Lacson also said that he has tasked Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz to sit down with the public transport sector on how to implement the executive order he has issued, especially the negative RT-PCR test results requirements.
He, however, said that they will still honor the arrangement between local government units of San Carlos City in Negros Occidental and Vallehermoso in Negros Oriental, as well as Mabinay and Kabanklan City, that allows their respective residents to cross the border, for a limited period.
Provincial Tourism Officer Mayla Abellana reported that 14 of the 25 cities and towns in Negros Oriental are now openly accepting incoming local travelers without any requirements, adopting the travel protocols outlined in Governor Roel Degamo’s Executive Order No. 6.
These includes Amlan, Ayungon, Bacong, Canlaon City, Dauin, Guihulngan City, Jimalalud, Mabinay, Pamplona, Sibulan, Zamboanguita, Tayasan, Tanjay City, and La Libertad, in Negros Oriental.
Travelers bound for Tanjay City need to register in the city tourism office’s Facebook page.
In La Libertad, voluntary swab tests for travelers are done on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at the town’s quarantine facility in Barangay Solongon.
Abellana disclosed that more local governments confirmed their final decisions this week.
As of March 12, Negros Oriental has 92 Covid-19 active cases.
Lacson said that the increasing number of Covid-19 active cases, because of Locally Stranded Individuals, remains a concern for him. That is why, they are requiring negative RT-PCR test result, prior to travel.
“We would prefer that we maintain our procedures upon arrival, but the Department of Interior and Local Government, through Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, threatened us with a show cause order,” Lacson said.
“But the good thing”, he added, is that the IATF resolution allows us to require from negative RT-PCR test results, he added.
The imminent opening of the regional border, Lacson said, does not mean that they will pull out manpower at the regional border, stressing that they still have a role to play.
“We have to make sure that those entering comply with our EO”, he added.*