BACOLOD CITY–In what appears to be yet another round of conflict with its own capital city, the provincial government of Negros Occidental, represented by provincial administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, is questioning the legality of the executive order issued by the Bacolod City mayor lifting the requirement of the S-Pass (Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage) approval even as it stands pat on its position to continue to require the same from incoming passengers to the province.
“Is it legal? As far as we are concerned, it is not. Because under Resolution 101 of the national Inter- Agency Task Force, the S-PaSS is the mode by which travelers are able to upload all documentation for proper recording. It is a way to verify…vaccination cards and negative RT- PCR tests, without which we would be relegating the checking (of these documents) to airport and airline personnel, which is not fair,” he said, adding, “The Department of the Interior and Local Government needs to look into this.”
He also pointed out that lifting the S-PaSS requirement is “too premature, too complacent” at this time considering that the city and province’s alert level is changed every two weeks.
Diaz’s statements come on the heels of those of Bacolod City Councilor Cindy Rojas and Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center Executive Director Em Ang declaring incoming passengers bound for Bacolod via the Bacolod-Silay Airport need not apply for an S-PaSS.
UNIMPEDED IS UNWISE
For Diaz, to allow unimpeded travel or to do away with protocols is unwise.
He said that under the NIATF resolution if travelers are expected to commute among the local government units (LGUs), they cannot disregard the protocols of any LGU they are passing through.
This means that even if a traveler were bound for Bacolod City, those arriving at the Bacolod-Silay Airport would still be required to submit their documents via the S-PaSS system as the airport located in Silay City is under the jurisdiction of Negros Occidental.
He also said that, upon checking the travel policy status of Bacolod City, they found out it was listed as “restricted”.
“’Restricted’ means the protocols would have to be complied with. If it were ‘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 approvals, and if they want to “throw caution to the wind”, then “Negros Occidental is willing to process all S-PaSS applications without delay, but without sacrificing the province’s minimum health requirements”.
In closing, Diaz advised Bacolod City to “never let your guard down”, noting how countries in Europe such as Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands are about to impose lockdowns again as they brace for the 4th and 5th waves of COVID-19 brought about by the Delta variant.
Diaz stressed Negros Occidental will still require the S-PaSS requirement for Bacolod City-bound travelers entering the province via the Bacolod-Silay Airport. (Eugene Y. Adiong/iNews-Bacolod/Negros Bureau)