MANILA, (Mabuhay) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday ordered all police commanders, especially in Eastern Visayas, to further strengthen border control amid reports of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) sneaking into various areas where a travel ban is in effect.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force Covid Shield, said he had already coordinated with Philippine Coast Guard Commandant, Vice Adm. George Ursabia for the intensified conduct of patrols to intercept LSIs using boats and other seacraft to enter areas where repatriation of LSIs were suspended, particularly in Eastern Visayas.

“We are further intensifying border control operations in these areas because we have been receiving reports that some LSIs are illegally entering some areas in the region through small boats and even cargo and other vehicles,” Eleazar said in a statement.

Eleazar, also PNP deputy chief for operations, said the intensified security measures for Eastern Visayas will also be implemented in Western Visayas and Cebu and Mactan Islands in anticipation of any attempt by some LSIs to do the same.

The return of LSIs to Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Cebu, and Mactan Islands was earlier suspended for 14 days based on the request of the local chief executives to give them more time to decongest and disinfect their quarantine facilities, as well as to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The requests to suspend all travels to the two regions were approved by the National Task Force Against Covid-19 headed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

The travel ban in Caraga Region, on the other hand, was already lifted.

Eleazar added that he had already instructed police commanders manning both the quarantine control points (QCPs) and dedicated control points (DCPs), and Coast Guard personnel to strictly check all the cargo vehicles and other vehicles at least before the boarding of ships bound for any part of the two regions for any illegal travelers.

He said the instruction to intensify border control and checking of incoming seacraft and cargo and other vehicles was relayed to security personnel in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Camiguin where suspension of travel of LSIs coming from Metro Manila was implemented starting July 1.

“We have to be very strict about this since what is at stake is the health of the people in those areas because there is a high possibility that these LSIs illegally entering the places where travel ban was implemented did not go through the proper medical check,” said Eleazar. (MNS)

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