City to still require negative test results while under MECQ

DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said unless the city shifts to a general community quarantine (GCQ) or modified GCQ (MGCQ), it will still continue to require individuals a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result, even if they are fully vaccinated.

On Sunday, July 2, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved Resolution 124-B, which allows fully-vaccinated individuals to present their vaccination cards for interzonal movement.

Interzonal movement means traveling to areas where there is a different community quarantine status.

Duterte-Carpio said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio on Monday, July 5, that the city is bound to adopt the guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

However, when asked if this order already took effect, she said, “Ang pagkasabot nako (As far as I know, it) is between GCQ [general community quarantine] and MGCQ [modified GCQ]. We are still on MECQ.”

Davao City is still under MECQ until July 15.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said on Sunday, July 4, 2021 that for interzonal travel, which is allowed under IATF resolutions and Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the country, as amended, presentation of a Covid-19 domestic vaccination card issued by a legitimate vaccinating establishment, or certificate of quarantine completion showing the holder’s vaccination status as may be issued by the Bureau of Quarantine will be “sufficient alternatives to any testing requirement” (before travel or upon arrival) which the local government unit (LGU) of destination may require.

But travelers are still subject to the health and exposure screening implemented by the receiving LGU upon arrival.

Roque said under the resolution, a person will be considered fully vaccinated for Covid-19 two weeks after having received the second dose in a two-dose series vaccine or two weeks after having received a single dose in the case of a single-dose vaccine brand.

Intrazonal movement is also allowed for fully vaccinated senior citizens in areas under GCQ and MGCQ.

Intrazonal travel refers to the movement between provinces and cities under the same community quarantine classification, without transiting through an area placed under a different classification.

Senior citizens just have to present a Covid-19 domestic vaccination card or certificate of quarantine completion showing their vaccination status as may be issued by the Bureau of Quarantine, and follow the minimum public health standards.

But Davao City still has an existing ordinance mandating RT-PCR testing taken within 72 hours upon arrival at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, also known as Davao International Airport.

In accordance to the City Ordinance 0477-21, Series of 2021, “persons entering Davao City via the Davao International Airport are mandated to present their RT-PCR Covid-19 Test Result to Davao City officials and/or authorities, along with a valid government issued identification card.”

The mayor said she will refer the matter to the 19th City Council for amendments.

SunStar Davao reached out to Councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta, proponent of the ordinance, for information on the possible amendment to be pushed in the Council, but she declined to comment, saying the matter will be answered by the Airport Monitoring Team.

City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) Head Generose Tecson, who also serves as Airport Monitoring head, told SunStar Davao in a phone interview that she is also not keen for the ordinance amendment.

She said, though, that the IATF order is still not in effect as the city is still under MECQ.

Tecson also said the city has yet to issue an executive order adopting the IATF resolution.

She said there are also issues with the vaccination card.

“Hindi pa kasi unified ‘yung vaccination card. Wala kasing security features ang vaccination card. How are we going to identify kung fake o hindi?” Tecson said.

This concern has been part of the agenda during the Task Force meeting.

She said the city has also been planning to incorporate the vaccination status of the vaccinees on the Safe Davao QR (DQR).

The Joint Regional IATF also issued a resolution requiring land travelers from NCR Plus and Cebu to present negative RT-PCR tests before they will be allowed entry at the border checkpoint in the region including Davao City.

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 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.”

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Davao Director Alex Roldan, who is also the RIATF chair, said the resolution still takes effect as the body is still waiting for the IATF resolution.

“But [we] will consider the new IATF resolution particularly the new policy on travel,” Roldan told SunStar Davao in a text message.

SunStar Davao

SunStar Davao

SunStar Davao is Davao City's most sought after community content provider in both print and online. It is part of the SunStar news network in the Philippines. Sun.Star Davao started as a bi-weekly newspaper Peryodiko Dabaw in December 1985 by Elpidio G. Damaso as the so-called alternative press during the end days of the Marcos dictatorship. It started publishing five times a week the following year and was relaunched as Ang Peryodiko Dabaw on September 7, 1987, marking the entry of new investors and its use of desktop publishing, while its Davao City competitors were still using letterpress.

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