Tallado defies DILGon antigen testing

By Mar S. Arguelles


Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo Tallado has rejected the recommendation of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Bicol to realign its health protocols in carrying out stricter border control measure in the province in accordance with the policies set by the National Pandemic Task Force.


Tallado in his letter to Antonio Nuyda, DILG regional director and chairperson of the Bicol Interagency Taskforce for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (BIATF) chairperson, on Aug. 11 has slammed the DILG for criticizing the province health protocol requiring all travelers including APOR or authorized person outside of residence, whether fully vaccinated or not, to present a negative swab or rapid antigen test result upon entering the borders of the Camarines Norte.

Tallado in justifying the province tighter border control measure said it would further prevent the spread of the Covid-19 especially the Delta variant, as other Bicol provinces have been pursuing stricter border control points to protect and curb the entry of the more transmissible variant


He even cited that that the entire Bicol region is now under Alert Level 3 category for Covid-19 after two cases of Delta variants were detected in the region.


He said “no less than the President has urged the LGUs to prepare their strategies to contain the spread of the mutated variant as echoed by Interior Sec. Eduardo Año.


Tallado said in that instruction, Año announced that the agency would be coming up with guidelines for LGU to prepare for the possible spread of the Delta variant.


“But even without the pronouncement, LGUs can impose stricter border control measures pursuant to Section 16 of the Local Government Code (LGC) or the General Welfare Clause.”


The controversy between Tallado and the DILG stemmed when DILG personnel and other line agencies performing official functions in the Camarines Norte complained to the DILG/BIATF that they were required to present at the provincial border checkpoint their rapid antigen test negative result despite being APOR.


In response to this issue, Nuyda wrote a letter to Tallado on Aug. 6 reminding him that such requirements violate the national policies set in the NIATF Omnibus guidelines.


Nuyda said as DILG regional director and BIATF chairperson, “I am bound to ensure that the national policies are implemented uniformly in the region. Hence, by submitting my personnel and those of National Government Agencies (NGA) to that requirement, I would be reneging on my duty.”


The DILG executive advised the Tallado to align the province’s policies with the national policies.


In compliance with the national policy, Nuyda has further advised national government personnel performing functions in the province and those residing therein to perform functions elsewhere in the region and were instructed not to submit to the rapid antigen testing at the “provincial borders” for being violative of the national guidelines.


In his reply to Nuyda, Tallado said “allow me to call out the alleged disorderly behavior of some DILG personnel towards the police and PDRRMO staff assigned at our checkpoint. We do not tolerate such behavior and we hope that the same incident will not happen again. They are only following orders and carrying out their mission.”


Tallado said they would abide by the guidelines set by the NIATF to remove the testing protocols provided that the DILG would shoulder all the expenses that may be incurred by the province should more residents are infected with the virus.


Meanwhile, border checkpoints in other Bicol provinces are implementing their respective stricter control measures, allowing entry only essential travelers and food transport deliveries. They are required to present travel pass, negative antigen test results, and for APOR, to present travel order from their employers, a letter of exemption from negative antigen test certified by the PDRRMO, company ID card. Persons with medical concerns should present an medical abstract and a certification from a physician that the person would undergo regular medical check-up, laboratory examinations and the likes.


In Masbate, the provincial government has declared a lockdown suspending incoming and outgoing sea transportation operation in the Masbate port including plane flights from Manila.