Second District Rep. Aris Aumentado on Monday expressed appreciation for Governor Art Yap’s decision to finally allow fully vaccinated individuals to enter Bohol without COVID-19 testing and with just a local government unit-issued vaccination card as proof of inoculation.
According to Aumentado, there was no reason for the government to hassle Boholanos who wish to return home to the province, particularly those vaccinated against COVID-19, and this should have been the initial stance of the governor.
Yap’s policy on the entry protocols for fully vaccinated individuals changed three times in a span of one week after his first two executive orders drew heavy flak from the public.
The latest alteration which finally allowed travelers to enter Bohol with just a vaccination card issued from any LGU, instead of a vaccination certificate from the Department of Health (DOH), was issued on October 30, just several hours after Aumentado announced that he has secured funds to cover the RT-PCR testing of returning Boholanos.
RT-PCR testing was the alternate requirement for those unable to secure a vaccination certificate from the DOH’s website which was still on pilot launch and primarily catered to international travelers in issuing the document.
“Nalipay ko na pag post nako sa social media sa FB na maglibre ta og [RT-PCR], after four hours, nausob ang executive order ni Governor Yap na okay na ang tanan [vaccination card] so mao nay giingon na puydi man diay, ngano di man nato hatagan og kasayon sa pagsugod pa lang,” said Aumentado.
1 week, 3 EOs
The governor’s first EO on the entry of vaccinated individuals, EO 53, was issued on October 23. This drew criticisms from various sectors for its requirement of a DOH-issued vaccination certificate which many said was difficult to obtain.
Among those who denounced Yap’s policy was Cebu-based veteran journalist Leo Lastimosa whose video in which he called out the governor for issuing a directive which he said was not well thought out went viral over Facebook.
On October 24, Yap issued EO 53-A which ordered the temporary recognition of vaccination cards as proof of inoculation but only if these were issued by a Bohol LGU. Those with vaccination cards issued outside of Bohol still needed to secure a vaccination certificate from the DOH or undergo RT-PCR testing.
The amended policy still led to an uproar particularly from Boholanos who were vaccinated outside of the province including those working and temporarily living in Cebu.
Six days after, on October 30 Yap changed his policy through EO 53-B which recognizes vaccination cards issued from any LGU across the province as proof of inoculation.
Medical cluster’s decision
Yap’s decision to ease entry protocols was initially seen by critics as a political move considering that it was made just hours after Aumentado’s post on free RT-PCR testing went viral over Facebook.
However, in his daily online press briefer on Tuesday, Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force spokesperson Dr. Yul Lopez said that Yap ordered the recognition of vaccination cards from other LGUs through the advice of the BIATF’s medical cluster.
“Ang kahimtang karon pagbiyahe sud sa atong lalawigan sa Bohol gihimo ng mas sayon sa atong provincial governor uban sa pag advise sa medical technical working group ug pagdason sa mga mayores sa Bohol,” said Lopez.
Lopez noted that the vaccination certificate from the DOH is still the ideal proof of inoculation considering that it has a QR code that makes it difficult to forge.
He added however that the BIATF which is led by Yap decided to forgo the vaccination certificate requirement as the governor admitted that the DOH website still lacked updates.
“Ang atong gobernador nakakita sa mga kakuwangan tungod kay ang kasagaran ang hinungdan wala pa gyud makompleto og upload sa mga kalungsoran ug syudad ang datos sa mga nabakunahan didto sa Manila kanang vaccine center sa Manila na naggunit sa tanang datos,” Lopez said.