Election execs, candidates, aides granted outdoor pass
MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials and candidates running in next year’s polls should have no trouble moving about in preparation for the elections as the government’s pandemic task force has classified them as authorized persons outside of residence (Apors).
In a resolution released on Friday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said all Comelec officials and personnel were considered Apors while performing their duties.
The IATF said those who would file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) and certificates of nomination and acceptance for the May 9, 2022, local and national elections were considered Apors as well.
These include aspirants or their authorized representatives, their authorized companions, chairs or presidents or, in their absence, authorized representatives of the political parties, sectoral parties, organizations, or coalitions participating under the party list system. They also include Comelec personnel who will be submitting hard copies of COCs to the poll body’s main office.
They will be allowed to travel between areas under different levels of pandemic restrictions but will be required to present proof of identification and purpose of travel.
The IATF said the Comelec would provide alternative COC filing rules for those residing in areas under granular lockdown.
The filing of COCs is from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8.
For national positions, the filing of COCs will be held in one of the tents at Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City to ensure there will be enough space and proper ventilation as required under health protocols.
Also, the IATF said researchers, workers, members and affiliate staff of the World Health Organization Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 vaccines were allowed interzonal and intrazonal movements regardless of community quarantine classification and granular lockdowns.
Target participants and eligible patients in areas under granular lockdowns may also be allowed to leave their residences for purposes of the clinical trial but not outside their general areas of residence.
In the same resolution, the IATF allowed more activities in Metro Manila as it pilot tests its new alert level system.
Those below 18 years old and above 65 years old, as well as pregnant women and those with comorbidities are now allowed to go outdoors for exercise, the IATF said in the resolution. However, their movements will be limited to their general area of residence, it added.
Gatherings such as necrological services, wakes and inurnment for the cremated remains of those who died of COVID-19 are also permitted but are limited only to immediate family members.
These new rules, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, take effect immediately.
The IATF also permitted the holding of the grand coronation events for the Miss Universe Philippines pageant in Bohol. The events to be held from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1 are subject to strict health and safety protocols and will have to be approved by the provincial government.
The IATF has also reactivated a small technical working group that was tasked with proposing changes to the uniform travel protocols for land, air and sea.
For shorter isolation
In the meantime, Management Association of the Philippines backed the proposal of Philippine Airlines to cut short the required quarantine period for fully vaccinated international passengers arriving in the Philippines to five days from 10 days. It is also proposing the removal of the nasal swab requirement for fully inoculated domestic travelers.
Under the proposal, international travelers will be required to be tested 72 hours before their flights to the Philippines. Upon arrival, they will still have to go through the mandatory quarantine, where they are required to undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on the third day. If they test negative for COVID-19, they can exit the quarantine facility on the fifth day and continue their isolation at home.
“We note with interest the easing of international travel restrictions in many countries, from reduction of quarantine periods to no quarantine at all, as in the United States, for the fully vaccinated,” Aurelio Montinola III, president of the business group, said in a statement on Friday.
Similarly, Montinola said fully vaccinated domestic travelers should no longer be required to undergo RT-PCR testing provided they strictly observe health protocols.
“By testing travelers prior to their flights, you significantly reduce the probability of allowing infected individuals to board, while testing on the third day after arrival should catch any potential infections since the preflight test,” Montinola said.
“Making it less painful for travelers to come to the country and providing mobility incentives within the country for the fully vaccinated will give our beleaguered hospitality, tourism and transport sectors a much-needed boost,” he added.
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