DOT seeks penalties vs Coron tourist who forged travel documents

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOT seeks penalties vs Coron tourist who forged travel documents
“Coron, Palawan awaits your return to its magnificent limestone rock formations and stunning lagoons as it opens for domestic travel on Dec. 1,“ the Department of Tourism said yesterday.
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MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Monday reported another case of a tourist who entered Coron, Palawan with falsified travel documents and tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, the DOT said the tourist is a 24-year-old male resident of Quezon City who arrived in Coron on March 9. He was confirmed COVID-19 positive by the Quezon City Surveillance Team.

The information was relayed to the local government of Coron the next day.

“All first-generation contacts of the positive tourist were all tested and are negative using the RT-PCR test conducted by Culion Sanitarium, and General Hospital Molecular Laboratory. While all secondary contacts were also tested and are negative using the antigen test by the Municipal Health Office,” the Coron Emergency Operations Center reported Saturday.

While the DOT is saddened by yet another case of falsification of travel documents, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat praised the prompt coordination between the QCST and the local government of Coron resulting in the early detection and contact tracing.

DOT Region IV-B has recommended penalties against the tourist.

Under the Republic Act (RA) No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, tampering of documents and records issued by the public health authorities is a crime punishable by penalties amounting to P20,000 to 50,000 or imprisonment of one to six months or both.

In early February, three tourists from Manila who traveled to Boracay island with fake RT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test results also tested positive for COVID-19.

Since December, more than a dozen Boracay tourists submitted counterfeit RT-PCR test results.

Last February 20, the DOT said that police in El Nido in Palawan were “is filing charges” against two tourists from the National Capital Region for tampering with their COVID-19 test results.

The two female tourists submitted swab tests with falsified dates of specimen collection. They were then barred held at the Lio Airport, El Nido by the Municipal Health Officers.

While the Inter-Agency Task Force on Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases no longer requires tourists to submit negative COVID-19 tests before travel, some major tourist destinations including Coron still require negative RT-PCR test results with QR code from a Department of Health-accredited laboratory.

Some also accept negative saliva test results with QR code from the Philippine Red Cross.

These tests should be taken 72 hours before the flight or sea travel from the time and date collected.

Coron guests must also submit confirmed hotel booking with DOT-accredit accomodations, confirmed booking with licensed tour or diving services, return ticket or QR code from www.corontourism.ph.

The DOT reminded the public to uphold public to uphold minimum public health and safety standards.

"Tourists and host communities alike are enjoined to practice mindful and responsible tourism to help strengthen recovery efforts," the department said.

Puyat, meanwhile encouraged the public to avail of the 50% subsidized RT-PCR test at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital for only P900. 

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