The Joint Task Force COVID Shield clarified on Wednesday that medical frontliners and essential workers living in the provinces but are working in the National Capital Region are not required to get a travel pass to board Metro Manila-bound passenger buses which were allowed to operate starting September 30.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, made the clarification amid confusion over reports that all passengers boarding buses heading to Metro Manila must present a Travel Authority before they are allowed to enter even the bus terminals in the provinces.
Eleazar explained that the National Task Force on COVID-19 chaired by Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana has always maintained that the travel protocols are relaxed for medical frontliners and essential workers for the economy to continue run amid the difficulties brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Medical frontliners and essential workers are considered as the backbone of our economy and our response against the spread of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID019) in these trying times. As per Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año, the travel of medical frontliners and essential workers must be less restricted since they play a key role in the effective response of the government on COVID-19),” said Eleazar.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said that the welfare of medical frontliners and essential workers have always been a priority in the crafting and implementation of policies that would affect them, especially on their travel to work and back home.
“We would like to remind the bus companies that all that medical frontliners and essential workers have to present are valid identification cards or Certificate of Employment proving that their travel is work-related,” Eleazar stressed.
He said the Travel Authority is only required for the Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Unauthorized Persons Outside Residence (UPORs). A Medical Clearance Certificate from City and Municipal Health Office and prior coordination with the receiving Local Government Units are needed before a Travel Authority is issued to LSIs and UPORs.
Earlier, the NTF on COVID-19, through the Department of Transportation, has allowed the resumption of operations of 12 modified routes of provincial buses to Metro Manila from the provinces of Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite, and vice versa.
The conditions set for the resumption of Metro Manila-bound bus operations include prohibition on picking up passengers outside of the terminals, no eating, drinking and talking inside the passenger buses and prohibition in making and taking cellular phone calls.
“The resumption of operations of provincial buses was allowed purposely to make the transportation of medical frontliners and essential workers, who are living outside Metro Manila but are working in the NCR, convenient and easier. They do not deserve to experience difficulties if their travel is work-related,” Eleazar added.