SoCot Implements New Travel Guidelines

Koronadal City, South Cotabato – Ten (10) days after issuing an executive order (EO) in compliance with the National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 on March 2, 2021, Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr. issued another EO to provide additional guidelines for the entry of returning residents, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), authorized persons outside of residents (APORs), and local travelers to the Province of South Cotabato on March 12, 2021.

In the previous EO, travelers shall no longer be required to undergo COVID-19 testing except if the local government unit (LGU) of destination will make testing as a requirement prior to travel. Testing will be limited to Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test.

Additionally, travelers shall no longer undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination. On documentary requirements, the travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force COVID Shield and health certificates shall no longer be required, as well.

On the other hand, as regards the entry of APORs from national government agencies and their attached agencies, they must provide their identification cards, travel order, and travel itinerary, and must likewise pass symptom-screening at the ports of entry and exit.

Under the new EO, however, as per recommendation from the medical society, the medical health officers, members of the Incident Management Teams (IMTs) and frontliners, there is a need to strengthen and enhance the province’s response to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the entire province.

Hence, the governor ordered additional policies and guidelines for the abovementioned travelers seeking entry in South Cotabato. The highlights of this new EO are the following:

  1. Barangay Certification and Acceptance will be required to travelers before entering the province;
  2. Travelers are required to provide an Affidavit of Waiver (to undergo mandatory quarantine if COVID-19 symptoms will manifest later). This shall be accomplished at the airport/point of entry or arrival lounge or may be downloaded at the provincial government’s website through the tourism office;
  3. There must be accredited vehicles to fetch travelers from airports, seaports or terminals, and there must be agreed drop-off points in every LGU, with transportation expense/fare to be shouldered by the travelers.

The reason for these additional guidelines is because while the province is under the relaxed Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) status, there is still a need to continue safeguarding the health of the people of the province as the number of COVID-19 cases in the entire country has continued to rise, and the United Kingdom (UK) and South African COVID-19 variants are also spreading within the Philippines.