A Bohol mayor has expressed dismay over the eased regulations in the travel of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and locally stranded individuals (LSI) into the province amid the practically unrestricted deluge of returning Boholanos.
Valencia Mayor Kat Lim, in a Facebook post, said that “thousands of lives” are placed at stake with the national government’s decision to ease requirements for LSIs and OFWs.
“We are allowing these people to come in to our province without being properly quarantined from their point of origin. We do not even require them of a negative test result prior to repatriation. All for what? So these National Gov’t Agencies would be pleased? So we would not be “charged” administratively?” Lim said.
“It saddens me because they are supposed to be our partners. But it seems like they wanted the “easy way out” of things and by doing so, they are putting thousands of lives at stake,” she added.
Currently, the provincial government in accordance with a Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) memorandum only requires LSIs to secure a medical certificate from a government physician and travel authority from the Philippine National Police (PNP) for them to travel.
Lim clarified that she is not against the return of OFWs and LSIs but is “apprehensive” over the non-requirement of safety protocols such as quarantining in their places of origin and testing for COVID-19.
“Bohol WAS Covid-FREE. If only they did not intervene with how our Provincial Officials managed the situation and if only we did not let fear win over our political will, we could have been COVID-FREE until now,” she said.
Still, the second-term local chief executive is optimistic that Bohol can contain the spread of the disease.
She called on other public officials to also make a stand in making decisions related to the management of LSIs and OFWs.
“I am not posting this to show disrespect to any Official or to any Government Agency. I have high respect of my fellow public servants. I am posting this in the hope of touching the hearts of those who I know can make a BIG difference to the situation we are in right now,” she said.
“It is in the spirit of public service that I encourage my fellow public servants to take a firm stand on how we are going to manage the entry of OFWs and LSIs,” she added.
There are currently seven active COVID-19 cases in the province, five of them are LSIs.
Their infection was detected through testing while on quarantine in the province. However, not all municipalities have adequate supplies of testing kits, both rapid and PCR, while they are also not mandated by the national government to conduct tests.