IBA, Zambales—The Zambales provincial government has put into effect stricter border controls with the adoption of a travel management system to properly monitor the movement of people and help arrest further transmission of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the province.
Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said the province is now using the Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) Travel Management System, which requires even local residents crossing the border to register with the system and secure a personal QR (quick response) code for scanning at border checkpoints.
In his April 1 executive order that directed all municipal governments in Zambales to adopt the system, Ebdane said the S-PaSS would now be “institutionalized as the one-stop shop application and communication system for travelers.”
“The S-PaSS is meant to benefit not only the travelers, but also the authorities to properly monitor the movement of people in different locations in the effort to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus,” Ebdane explained.
He added that the S-PaSS is also adopted “with an aim to slowly open the province in a proper, safe and secure process.”
Under Ebdane’s EO 10, the new travel protocol would require the use of digital documents like Travel Coordination Permit (TCP), which allows one to travel to a destination with travel restrictions, or a Travel Pass Through Permit (TPP), which allows one to pass through an area with travel restrictions. Both make use of a personal QR code.
For monitoring purposes, Ebdane also directed all municipalities to establish strategic points where the QR codes of all travelers passing through LGU jurisdiction would be scanned, and to designate focal persons who will man the scan points and coordinate operations with the appointed provincial implementer and validation team.
A public advisory issued by the Zambales Tourism Office indicated that the S-PaSS requirement would not apply to residents traveling within the province, who should only show proof of residence at the scanning points.
However, the S-PaSS would be required from Zambales residents who pass through the provincial border, including those who seek medical services outside the province, or those who work in the Subic Bay Freeport or Olongapo City but come home to Zambales every day after work.
In these cases, however, only a one-time registration for a permit valid for one month would be required.
In the case of residents living in the Subic Freeport or Olongapo who wish to visit their hometown in Zambales, they would have to apply for S-PaSS, present proof of residence, and undergo an antigen test at the triage border point in Subic town before entry to Zambales.
Border restrictions in Zambales also prohibit the entry of travelers less than 15 years of age and more than 65 years old.
Last Sunday, Ebdane also extended the imposition of stricter health and safety protocols in the province until April 11 in line with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases resolution putting the National Capital Region and the nearby provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Bulacan under enhanced community quarantine for one more week.
As of April 6, Zambales has registered a total of 1,313 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which, 165 were active cases. Since last year, the province has also posted a total of 1,118 recoveries and 29 deaths from Covid-19 infection.