Government officials and employees who are traveling for work are now exempted from testing and quarantine requirements imposed by local governments, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque announced Friday.
“Approved by the IATF is the unimpeded travel of government officials/personnel on official business, including employees of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, to their place of destination,” Roque said in a statement.
Roque said they only need to present valid IDs as well as a travel authority or travel order. They must also not show coronavirus-like symptoms upon arrival at their destination and should follow health protocols at all times.
“They must likewise pass symptom screening at the port of their arrival, or in the case of public transport, upon boarding; and they must strictly comply with the minimum public health standards,” he added.
LGUs impose varying entry requirements, including a negative swab test result and a mandatory quarantine, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Several netizens opposed the exemption, arguing that just because they are public officials, that does not make them immune to the coronavirus.
Twitter user @yvettebry1 said: “I don’t think this is a good idea. If they are positive with the virus, they can spread it to others.”
Another user, @jasperjgomez, said: “What makes them think they’re immune?”
For its part, the Department of Health said these civil servants normally stay for a few hours during their work trips, and assured the public that government officials will obey safety protocols.
“Para expeditious ang ginagawang transaksyon ng ating mga (This exemption is for the expeditious transactions of our) government officials. The government is ensuring na ang (that the government) officials will [strictly comply] with the minimum health standards and we will all be undergoing the screening process,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing on Friday.