By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental provincial administrator, Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, affirmed yesterday that they have met with representatives of the Vallacar Transit Incorporated (VTI) and officials of the Northbound and Southbound terminals in Bacolod City to discuss plans for the resumption of bus trips heading to destinations outside of the province.
According to Diaz, among the trips that are scheduled to resume are Bacolod-Dumaguete (via San Carlos City), Bacolod-Canlaon City (via San Carlos City), Bacolod-Cebu City (via Tabuelan), Bacolod-Zamboanga, and the new route Sipalay-Cebu City.
“When we asked them if they can meet the requirements set by the NIATF [National Inter-Agency Task Force], they replied that they can meet the requirements,” Diaz said.
Under NIATF Resolution No. 101, travel authorities and medical certificates are no longer necessary. However, travelers are required to undergo RT-PCR test 72 hours prior to their trip.
Mandatory swabbing and quarantine are also no longer needed, although as per the provincial government’s protocols, travelers entering Negros Occidental are required to register via the S-Pass System, as well as the StaySafe.PH app.
Travelers will also be subjected to health screening before boarding the bus, as well as those arriving at the terminals.
The provincial administrator further stated that the bus trips will be a “point-to-point” trip, wherein they are not allowed to either bring in passengers in between destinations and the passengers inside the bus are also not allowed to disembark the vehicle.
Diaz pointed out the move aims to make sure that they can easily track the movements of the travelers.
He further stated, as per the executive order signed by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, travelers also have the option of voluntarily undergoing RT-PCR test or have themselves facility quarantined upon their arrival in the province for free.
“We still have a lot of discussions to be made, but overall this is good news to the residents of the province,” Diaz said.
Diaz also appealed to travelers to be responsible, especially those located from outside Negros Occidental as some areas are now experiencing a massive spike in the number of COVID-19 transmissions.
“We all cooperated to the point that our local cases have become single digit and some municipalities are even reporting zero cases, it will be irresponsible kung magpinagusto na lang ta biyahe,” he pointed out.
When asked if the Bacolod-Manila (via Batangas) bus route will also resume, Diaz said the matter has not yet been discussed, as mayors and governors in Western Visayas are still currently monitoring the situation in Metro Manila.
“We will study kung ano ang lakat sa Manila, but again [we might] stop travel between Manila and Bacolod kung maglain pa gid ang ila situation,” he added./DGB, WDJ