Vaccine or test? IATF clarifies LGUs 'retain discretion' on requirements for travelers


Posted at Jul 09 2021 02:08 PM

Vaccine or test? IATF clarifies LGUs 'retain discretion' on requirements for travelers 1
A health worker prepares a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot during the scheduled 2nd dose vaccination inside the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila on July 8, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Local governments "retain the discretion" on whether domestic travelers should get tested for the novel coronavirus or just present their vaccination proof, the inter-agency task force leading the country's COVID-19 response clarified on Friday, following some confusion on the protocols. 

The IATF earlier said those who have completed vaccination may present their inoculation card or quarantine certificate instead of a negative swab test result when traveling domestically. 

However, some local government units said the task force failed to consult them, and pointed out that different areas use varying vaccination cards. 

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In a meeting on Thursday, the IATF clarified that local government units may accept a COVID-19 vaccination card or certificate of quarantine completion as an alternative to RT-PCR testing, "which the local government may require," said task force and Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque. 

"This means that LGUs retain the discretion in requiring RT-PCR testing or accepting duly issued COVID-19 vaccination cards for allowed interzonal travel," he said in a statement. 
"These vaccination cards shall be sufficient proof of vaccination and any individual who shall present forged and/or falsified vaccination cards shall be dealt with in accordance with the law," added the Palace official. 
The IATF gave local governments leeway on the requirement for travelers "because they will make their own risk assessment, being the local chief executives of their respective jurisdictions," task force chairperson and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Thursday. 

The Philippines has recorded some 1.4 million coronavirus cases, the second highest tally in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia. 

Authorities aim to vaccinate 58 to 70 million of the 109 million population to safely reopen the economy. 

At least 3 million Filipinos have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, while about 9 million others have received one vaccine dose. 

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