Senator Nancy Binay has called for the lifting of the One Health Pass (OHP) for COVID-19 amid mounting complaints from travelers over the inconvenience of the screening system.
Meanwhile, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said he tested positive for COVID-19.
Abalos said he is currently at home in isolation and working remotely while strictly following recommended protocols. He has also ordered authorities to conduct the necessary contract tracing.
On the One Health Pass requirement, Binay said this is no longer practical and has become burdensome, particularly for OFWs and balikbayans. The senator said that OFWs have been complaining that the process of verifying the OHP has led to long lines in the country’s airports.
Binay also said when it comes to tourism, “we might be turning away potential guests because of this added bureaucratic layer whose effectiveness isn’t even guaranteed.”
Binay, chair of the Senate committee on tourism said that the Department of Tourism and other agencies should look into simplifying the processes that visitors have to undergo as the tourism industry looks to recover from the pandemic.
She added that besides the risk of data breaches, the OHP has also been the subject of scams, with the government repeatedly issuing warnings against websites demanding payment to issue fake passes.
In a related development, the seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate in the National Capital Region
(NCR) went down to 17.9 percent from the previous 19.1 percent, the independent monitoring OCTA Research Group said Monday.
OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David said that NCR’s positivity rate dipped to 17.9 percent on October 8, from its peak of 19.1 percent on October 1. The NCR’s reproduction number also slightly decreased from 1.10 on September 29 to 0.99 on October 6.
The reproduction rate refers to the number of people infected by one case. A reproduction number that is below 1 indicates that the transmission of the virus is slowing down.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada meanwhile said the Senate’s prioritization of the proposed creations of the disease control and virology institutes will set in motion deliberations on the bills that seek to improve the country’s healthcare system and prepare it for future health crises.
Willie Casas, Joel E. Zurbano
The proposed Senate Bill No. 679, or the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) Act, and Senate Bill No. 281, or the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) Act, are part of the chamber’s priority legislation, according to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The two bills are gaining support from among the senators, Zubiri said.