By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The provincial administrator of Negros Occidental yesterday hit officials from the city government of Bacolod after they announced that the S-PaSS will no longer be required for the fully-vaccinated city-bound travelers via the Bacolod-Silay Airport.
Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, provincial administrator, said the announcements made by Bacolod City Councilor Cindy Rojas and Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center Executive Director Em Ang were not legal.
According to Diaz, under National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) Resolution No. 101, S-PaSS is the mode wherein travelers are able to upload all of their documentations for proper recording as it is the way wherein they can check and verify such as vaccination cards and negative RT-PCR test results.
“I don’t think the [Executive Order filed by Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia] was legal and I think the [Department of the Interior and Local Government] should check it,” Diaz said.
He also pointed out that it is not yet advisable to lift the S-PaSS requirement among travelers as the city and the province’s alert levels are currently only temporary and change every two weeks.
“It is not wise for us to let our guards down and allow unimpeded travel without protocols,” Diaz said.
He further pointed out that under the NIATF resolution, if travelers are expected to commute among the local government units (LGUs), they cannot disregard the protocols of the LGUs they are passing through.
This means that even if a traveler is bound for Bacolod City, those who are arriving via Bacolod-Silay Airport will still be required to submit their documents via the S-PaSS system as the airport is under the jurisdiction of the provincial government as it is located in Silay City.
“They have to respect and comply with all the LGUs they will pass through,” Diaz pointed out.
He further pointed out that when they checked the S-PaSS, Bacolod City travel policy is still listed as “Restricted.”
“If they are ‘restricted’ then these things will have to be complied with, if they are ‘unrestricted’ then we would not have any problem approving the permits of all the passengers going to Bacolod City,” Diaz said.
He said if Bacolod City does not want to take care of its S-PaSS approval and if they want to throw caution into the air, then Negros Occidental is willing to process all S-PaSS applications without delay, but without sacrificing the province’s minimum health requirements.
Diaz also advised Bacolod City to never let its guard down, pointing out that countries in Europe such as Germany are closing down again as they brace for the fourth and fifth waves of COVID-19 which is currently blamed on the Delta variant.
The provincial administrator added that they will still require the S-PaSS requirement for Bacolod City-bound travelers who are entering the province via the Bacolod-Silay Airport.
Earlier over the weekend, both Rojas and Ang posted on social media that all Bacolod-bound travelers who are fully-vaccinated are no longer required to register via S-PaSS.
However in the same post, Rojas confirmed that some passengers traveling last Friday and Saturday were refused to board their flights as they do not have any S-PaSS registration.
Rojas said they will continue receiving and approving S-PaSS applications in the meantime due to the provincial government’s insistence, adding that “somebody is not listening to reason.”/DGB, WDJ