MANILA - The Philippines is coordinating with the World Health Organization and other countries on what proof of COVID-19 vaccination should be presented in borders, a Cabinet official said Thursday.
Several sectors have been urging the national government to either scrap or reduce the mandatory 10-day quarantine for vaccinated foreigners and Filipinos arriving from abroad.
"Wala tayong problema pag dating sa science... Ang concern lang po natin kung 'yung nagsasabi na bakunado na sila from abroad ay totoong bakunado," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(We don't have problems when it comes to the science. Our concern is how do we tell if a person from abroad has been vaccinated.)
"Nakikipag-ugnayan tayo sa bansang Amerika, sa ibang bansa at maging sa WHO ano ba 'yung evidence at proof at kung puwede ay may iisa na lang na digital na card," he said.
(We are coordinating with the US, other countries and the WHO about the evidence and proof of vaccination, and if possible, if they could just issue one digital card.)
While several countries have been issuing vaccination cards, Nograles said border control officials may still have a hard time verifying the authenticity of these items.
"Madali pong mag fake ngayon. Kahit sa America nagfe-fake sila ng vaccination card," Nograles said.
(It is easy to fake stuff. Even in America, they fake vaccination cards.)
"Hindi pa natin naplaplantsa so we have to treat everybody equally unless bakunado ka dito, bakunado ka sa Pilipinas [kasi] mache-check namin, mave-verify namin," he said.
(We haven't ironed it out yet so we have to treat everybody equally unless they are vaccinated in the Philippines because we can check, we can verify that.)
"Pero kung galing kang abroad, hindi namin alam kung bakunado ka o hindi so we have to assume na hindi ka bakunado," he said.
(But if they're coming from abroad, we don't know if they're vaccinated or not so we have to assume that they are not.)
Even if travelers from overseas have been vaccinated against COVID-19, they still have to undergo a 10-day quarantine and swab tests to ensure that they are not carrying foreign variants of the virus into the Philippines, the Cabinet Secretary said.
"We have to make sure na wala kang dalang virus," he said.
(We have to make sure that they are not carriers of the virus.)
"Ang pinaka nakakatakot dito yung variants, especially yung Indian variant," he said.
(The scariest part is the variants, especially the Indian variant.)
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said that while COVID-19 vaccines can prevent a person from becoming a severe or critical case, there is not enough research to prove that a vaccinated individual is already immune from carrying the virus.