BORACAY ISLAND, Malay, Aklan–Persona non grata.
This is the proposed label the local government of Malay would like to call individuals who fake their way into Boracay Island via the submission of fraudulent COVID-19 test results.
“These tourists put Boracay and the province of Aklan in a bad light. To declare them ‘persona non grata’ is the least we can do for now,” said Malay acting town mayor Frolibar Bautista.
“Persona non grata” is Latin for “unwelcome person”. In the context of local governance in the Philippines, a person may be declared as such for breaking local ordinances or laws via a resolution.
And the Sangguniang Bayan-Malay will do just that, said Bautista.
“A resolution will be passed declaring these travelers persona non grata for the manipulation and submission of forged test results to the Aklan provincial validating team,” he stated.
The acting mayor said fake documentation has turned into a thriving market in Metro Manila.
“May mga tao sa Metro Manila na nag-o-offer ng swab testing. Parang online lang; tinatawagan ang mga local tourists natin. Sa ngayon, may mga kaso ang mga ito for violation of quarantine protocols,” Bautista said.
A negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test result obtained from a licensed laboratory or testing facility within 72 hours prior to arrival in Boracay is one of the requisites when going to the famed island resort. Once validated, the traveler will be issued a QR (quick response) code, without which their entry will be barred.
The latest arrests were of three tourists found to have counterfeit test results. They were apprehended just as they were trying to check in as walk-in tourists at a hotel in Brgy. Balabag.
This and a few other similar incidents have prompted the Department of Tourism (DoT) to officially advise the LGUs to be firm with the pre-registration process.
For his part, Provincial Administrator and concurrent Caticlan port manager Atty. Selwyn Ibarreta said individuals caught at entry points in Aklan or in their hotels in Boracay Island face criminal charges for using and falsifying fraudulent documents under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code.
The penalty for the crime of falsification is imprisonment from two to six years.
Local officials decline the recommendation of some sectors to plaster photos of offenders in public places to serve as warnings to the general public.
“Hindi naman na kailangan ‘yan [We see no need for that],” Ibarreta said./(Boy Ryan Zabal/INews-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)