122 tourists were declared as "persona non grata" by the local government unit (LGU) of Malay for faking their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results to enter Boracay Island.
According to the Department of Tourism Boracay Field Office data that was sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), from October last year, the time the Island reopened its doors to tourists, up to February this year, 122 tourists were caught for using fake swab tests.
On March 11, a Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Malay resolution was approved, and it states that tourists who fake their swab test results will be "unwelcome for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic or the public health emergency".
The same resolution sponsored by SB member Maylyn Aguirre-Graf also states that it serves as a "deterrent to others who arrogantly refuse to heed the methods and processes" in Malay amid this pandemic.
In a virtual press conference, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat stressed that the Department of Tourism is serious about apprehending tourists who put other's health and lives at risk by presenting fake test results.
Puyat said for the workers from the tourism sector will not get infected, and the locals are protected; the LGUs require negative RT-PCR test results to ensure visitors are Covid-19 free, including in Boracay Island, to keep it free from the disease.
She added that the Department of Justice has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to seize those behind, producing fake results and its proliferation.
- Alarming number of falsified negative RT-PCR test result in Boracay pushed BIATF to seek help from DOJ
- DOT filed charges against the six tourist who falsify their COVID-19 test result
Puyat also said that the Department subsidized RT-PCR tests to assist tourists interested in visiting the Island, thus they only have to pay PHP700 instead of PHP3,500.
It is also crucial for establishments to be accredited as the Department wants to ensure they follow protocols, she added.
Puyat said the Western Visayas regional office has already received 64 complaints about health and safety protocol breaches.
"Region 6 conducts spot checks to make sure that those accredited by the Department of Tourism pass the health and safety protocols of the Department of Health," she said.
In an interview conducted by the PNA, Malay Chief Tourism Operations Officer Felix G. Delos Santos Jr. said that the verification of documents and the release of the QR code for tourists are being handled at the provincial level.
The LGU still requires tourists who want to enter Boracay to present their negative RT-PCR, but they already have an option, whether it is a swab or saliva RT-PCR test, he added.
Upon verifying their negative RT-PCR result, confirmed booking with DOT-accredited establishment, and their S-PaSS (Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage) application, they will be issued a QR code.
Then, they can use the QR code from the airport protocol, jetty port, and hotel establishment activities in Boracay until their departure.
1,217 visitors coming through the Caticlan airport as their entry point has been recorded by the Municipal Tourism Office of Malay from April 1 to April 25.
Source: Philippine News Agency (PNA)