Negros Occidental catches 2 travelers with fake COVID-19 vax cards

Eagle-eyed personnel of the provincial government of Negros Occidental intercepted two travelers with fake vaccination cards when they applied for S-PaSS (Safe, Swift and Smart Passage) on Tuesday, November 23.

One of them, who was bound for Bacolod, the capital city of the province, was denied entry  when she submitted a fake vaccination card, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II told Rappler.

The copy of the lady passenger’s vaccination certificate could not be found on their database, he said.

When they checked her vaccination card, “at face value, it was obviously fake,” he added. 

Diaz said that both cards looked “clean” and the text was computerized, with the same font style. He added that the text in most of vaccination cards is handwritten.

When they further checked on the locality where the passenger supposedly got her COVID-19 shots, she had no record, Diaz added.

The other passenger, a resident of Sagay City, was able to enter the province but was immediately intercepted at the airport. 

The passenger was then placed in quarantine for 14 days, Diaz said.

The provincial government stressed that falsification of travel documents, medical certificates, COVID-19 test results, and vaccination cards is punishable with imprisonment and fines under the Revised Penal Codes as well as the Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act. 

Diaz said the provincial government is still studying the possibility of pursuing legal action against the two passengers. He added that the province will continue to be vigilant. 

Intercepting inbound travelers with fake documents is not new for the province.

The provincial government has previously caught passengers with fake negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test results upon entry to the province.

However, the provincial government has not pursued any of these cases as the culprits asked for forgiveness, and “the governor has shown compassion,” Diaz had earlier said. 

Firm on S-PaSS requirement 

Meanwhile, Diaz said that the province will continue to require inbound passengers to submit the S-PaSS upon entry at the airport, which is contrary to the policy of Bacolod. 

Bacolod, a highly-urbanized city, is not under the jurisdiction of the provincial government. 

However, the airport, which is located at Silay City, north of Bacolod, is under the province. 

The dispute in protocols has left passengers confused. 

Diaz said that Bacolod should respect the protocols of the local government units where its passengers pass through. 

He added that the mayor’s executive order doesn’t cover the airport, as it is a territorial jurisdiction of the province. 

He also claimed that Bacolod was not even part of the negotiation of the province with the airlines. 

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia has already written Department of Interior and Local Government Western Visayas director Juan Jovian Ingeniero to help resolve the issue.

He pointed out that Bacolod, as a highly-urbanized city, does not belong under the political jurisdiction of the provincial government. 

Also on Thursday, Leonardia said he has furnished Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Secretary Karlo Nograles, the two co-chair of national COVID-19 Interagency Task Force; DILC Secretary Eduardo  Año and his Undersecretary Epimaco Densing.

He also stressed that the Bacolod-Silay Airport, which Diaz claims to be under the provincial government, is actually regulated by the national government.

"As such, the PNO cannot claim to also impose its own EO against those travelers inbound for Bacolod City," Leonardia's letter said. –