Gov’t urged to try US airport vaccination policy to spur PH economy
MANILA, Philippines — The government should adopt a policy similar to the one being implemented by the United States on inbound visitors, who may opt to get vaccinated in American airports when they arrive, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday.
“Pag-aralan natin kung maaaring ma-adopt natin ang ganitong sistema. Sa ganitong paraan, mas maraming mae-engganyo ang galing sa ibang bansa na wala masyadong kaso ng COVID-19 ang pumunta na dito sa ating bansa. Makatutulong ito sa mas mabilis na economic recovery ng Pilipinas,” Sotto said in a statement.
(Let us study if we can adopt a similar system. This way, travelers from countries with low COVID-19 cases will be attracted to come here. This will help in fast-tracking the economic recovery of the Philippines.)
Citing information gathered by his office, the Senate president said travelers who enter the U.S. are asked whether they have been fully vaccinated or not.
Fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to proceed to their destination while those who have yet to receive their vaccine will be offered jabs at the airport, said Sotto.
Those who wish to be inoculated are given jabs at the airport, while those who refuse the offer are allowed to leave, he added.
Sotto suggested adopting a similar policy to that of the U.S. as he urged the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to adjust the quarantine protocols for returning Filipinos, saying current rules are inconvenient and costly.
“We have received feedback from returning Filipinos that they are forced to shell out tens of thousands of pesos for the mandatory 14-day quarantine and swab testing before they are allowed to go home or proceed to their city or province of destination. This is not only inconvenient but unnecessary as well,” Sotto said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also issued a similar call and asked the task force to find a “middle ground.”
“We cannot be too stiff, too stringent. May occasion dapat na flexible tayo (There are times we should be flexible),” Lacson said in a separate statement.
Both senators cited information from one of Lacson’s staff members, who returned to the Philippines in early 2021. Upon her arrival in the country, the said staff member had to pay P2,000 for the van which transported her to a hotel serving as a government quarantine facility.
The staff member, who stayed at the hotel for six nights, paid P10,000 per night or a total of P60,000.
She likewise spent P4,500 for her RT-PCR swab test. Her expenses added up to more than P80,000, inclusive of food and other personal needs.
“You can just imagine what an ordinary employee returning to the Philippines has to go through. More than the inconvenience, he or she has to spend for hotel accommodations, swab tests, and related items,” Lacson said.
Sotto, for his part, said that if the government is not able to shoulder the fees incurred by returning Filipinos for their quarantine requirement, it should at least adjust the guidelines to alleviate some of the financial burdens.
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