VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post claiming ‘no more requirements’ for travelers amid pandemic NEEDS CONTEXT

Netizens are sharing a screen grab of a video thumbnail claiming that people traveling to their provinces amid the pandemic no longer need to meet travel requirements. This needs context.

The circulating graphic showed a photo of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and the statement, “Sa mga uuwi ng probinsya, requirements no more na (To those going home to provinces, requirements are no more)!” A checklist read: “No more quarantine”, “No more swab test,” and “No more travel pass.”

On Feb. 26, Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued Resolution No. 101 which introduced a “uniform travel protocol” for land, air and sea travel in the Philippines.

Under the issuance — crafted with local government units (LGUs) — travel authorities from the Joint Task Force COVID Shield and health certificates are no longer needed. Other requirements, while not nationally mandated anymore, may still be required under certain conditions.

COVID-19 testing is no longer mandatory, unless the LGU of destination requires it prior to travel. Tests are limited to RT-PCR. And quarantine is not required except if individuals “exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination.”

Roque announced the new protocols in a press briefing on Feb. 27, and were reiterated by Interior and Local Government Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya in a March 1 press release.

More than a week later, the League of Provinces of the Philippines, in a March 11 interview with DZMM Teleradyo, asked the national government to allow LGUs to prescribe PCR, antigen or saliva tests at points or ports of entry to check potential asymptomatic carriers of the COVID-19 virus.

The graphic making the rounds on social media came from a March 2 video uploaded by YouTube channel KaViaje, titled: “No travel requirements na ba ngayong Marso? Alamin ang buong detalye (Are there no more travel requirements this March? Know the full details).”

While KaViaje’s headline was posed as a question, its thumbnail made it seem like all LGUs no longer have a mandated quarantine protocol, which caused netizens to question the legitimacy of the graphic.

Some people called it “fake,” while others asked why their colleagues were being asked to quarantine while waiting for swab tests.

The top three traffic generators of the YouTube video are FB public groups Land Transfortation Franchising and Regulatory Board - LTFRB, Provincial Bus Fans Group, and Viral Videos Group.

According to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, the video obtained over 10,500 interactions on FB and has over 132,606 views on YouTube. One post carrying the graphic has been shared 200 times, while another has been shared over 3,600 times.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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