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Bacolod S-PaSS unrestricted, approval immediate, Ang says

The S-PaSS application for travelers bound for Bacolod City is now unrestricted.

That means they can directly apply through Bacolod City at https://s-pass.ph and will immediately be granted an S-PaSS, Executive Director Em Legaspi Ang of the Bacolod Emergency Operations Center-Task Force, said Thursday, November 24.

The S-PaSS or Safe, Swift and Smart Passage is an online travel management system used for domestic travel.

The city government earlier said applying for an S-PaSS was no longer required. The Negros Occidental provincial government, however, said all incoming passengers, including those bound for Bacolod, would be required to obtain an S-PaSS prior to arrival at the Bacolod Silay Airport as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to stop the provincial government from requiring Bacolod-bound passengers to apply for an S-PASS.

DILG Regional Director Juan Jovian Ingeniero in a letter to Leonardia on Wednesday, said while they are one with Bacolod City in the pursuit to provide ease of movement to its constituents, they cannot direct the province of Negros Occidental to avoid implementation of the S-PaSS system.

This is especially so since it is a policy that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases encourages local government units to utilize as the government’s primary digital contact tracing and travel management system, he said.

However, the move to ease travel requirements have been inherent within the S-PaSS system, as the LGU can adopt the “restricted” policy feature where the LGU requires submission of documents that need to be verified prior to travel, or the “unrestricted” policy that allows the traveler to record their travel details without the need for any document to be submitted to the LGU, and for immediate approval, he said.

In the case of Bacolod, we strongly advise the “unrestricted” policy in the S-PaSS system, if the intention is to eliminate the approval of the LGU prior to the passengers’ departure, Ingeniero said.

Ang said because they adopted the unrestricted policy, Bacolod-bound passengers’ applications for an S-PaSS will be automatically approved.

Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said the DILG opinion settles the issue, “we now know who is at fault and confused the people.”

Diaz quoted Frank Carbon of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry as saying that requiring an S-PaSS is small price to pay for the safety of residents.

The provincial government validates vaccination cards and negative RT-PCR test results of S-PaSS applicants prior to their departure to ensure that they are not fake, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Diaz said.

“Less than a month ago the biggest wave of COVID hit our province, we cannot be careless,” he said.

He said there are help desks at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila for passengers who need to obtain their S-PaSS and the provincial government acts swiftly on their applications as it has personnel on 24/7 watch.

The effective screening of passengers is for the safety of all, he stressed, citing numerous deaths caused by the virus.*

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