The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said the national government had never issued a policy requiring COVID-19 swab test for travelers, adding it was the decision of local government units.
“We wish to clarify that the PCR test was never a requirement by the national government. It was some LGUs who required it. Now, under the new protocols, the PCR test may still be required by the LGU of destination,” DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya clarified on Tuesday.
“Travelers just need to check with their LGU if it’s required. But please take note that LGUs can only require the RT-PCR test and cannot require the Antigen or rapid tests as requirement for travel,” he added.
Malaya also noted that DILG consulted with health professionals regarding the removal of swab test requirement and they suggested that travelers no longer require to undergo quarantine unless they show symptoms of COVID-19.
“Therefore, the health assessment of passengers or travelers supervised by medical professionals shall be mandatory upon entry in the port/terminal and exit at point of destination,” he said.
Swab test required by LGUs, not national gov’t – DILG
Earlier, Vice President Leni Robredo criticized the removal of quarantine and swab testing protocols, saying it could lead to a possible surge of infections.
However, Malaya said Robredo‘s criticism is misplaced.
“When the Vice President said that it was the Locally Stranded Individuals who were responsible for the spread of COVID to the provinces, this was in the early days of the pandemic when our infection rates were high and compliance with minimum health standards were very low,” he said.
“A year later, compliance is now high, our active cases are low, and our people know what to do to protect themselves and their families,” he added.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) recently issued Resolution No. 101 for standardized travel protocols across all LGUs.
Malaya said the resolution was established by the DILG in coordination with the PNP, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and the League of Cities of the Philippines.