COVID-19 Fact Checks

MISSING CONTEXT: Tourism chief Puyat says traveling abroad is but a dream

MISSING CONTEXT: Tourism chief Puyat says traveling abroad is but a dream
The quote attributed to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in May 2021 was actually said in April 2020. Filipinos are allowed to travel abroad if they complete certain requirements.
At a glance
  • Claim: Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that international travel might not happen in 2021, and that traveling abroad is only a dream at this point in time. 
  • Rating: MISSING CONTEXT
  • The facts: Puyat did say travel was not possible, but in April 2020 – when lockdowns had been in effect for only a few weeks – and not in May 2021. This year, Filipinos are allowed to travel abroad if they fulfill certain requirements.
  • Why we fact-checked this: This post was first shared and flagged by Facebook’s fact-checking tool on Saturday, May 8, as potentially misleading. Four Facebook users have reported this post for verification. It has 1,300 reactions, 1,200 comments, and 16,000 shares as of posting. 
Complete details

A Facebook post dated Saturday, May 8, quoted Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat as saying that international travel might not happen this year and traveling abroad is “but a dream” at this point in time.

This claim is missing context.

Puyat said this quote in April 2020, during a virtual hearing with the House committee on tourism. Lockdowns had been in effect for only a few weeks. She said, “Travel will not revert to normal right away. Even if the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) has been lifted, some LGUs (local government units) will not yet be open to visitors from other places and international travel might not yet happen within the year pending the travel restrictions of other nations. At this point in time, traveling is just but a dream.”

Based on the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ omnibus guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine in the Philippines, as of May 6, 2021, Filipinos are allowed to travel abroad as long as they comply with certain requirements. 

Outbound Filipinos must have roundtrip tickets and health and travel insurance if traveling as a tourist, a Bureau of Immigration declaration acknowledging the risks involved in traveling, and a negative COVID-19 test if required by their airline or country of destination. They must also comply with the guidelines of the National Task Force for the Management of Returning Overseas Filipinos upon their return.

The government lifted the ban on non-essential outbound travel on October 21, 2020.

This post was first shared and flagged by Facebook’s fact-checking tool on Saturday as potentially misleading. Four Facebook users have reported this post for verification. It has 1,300 reactions, 1,200 comments, and 16,000 shares as of posting. 

According to CrowdTangle data, the post was shared to at least five Facebook groups, some of which identify as groups for overseas Filipino workers or seamen. – Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.