Tourism chief warns: Health protocol violators will face fines, criminal charges

TOURISM Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has warned establishments and tourists that they will face fines, sanctions, and even criminal charges for nonobservance of government health guidelines after reported incidents of violations in Batangas and Boracay. In a statement from the Department of Tourism (DoT) on Wednesday, Ms. Puyat said “erring establishments may face criminal charges as deemed appropriate by the local government unit (LGU) concerned, and shall likewise be sanctioned by the DoT.” The DoT statement relates to what it called a “reckless social gathering” at the Blue Coral Beach Resorts, Inc. in San Juan, Batangas, which was documented on video “by concerned individuals.” The video showed a “large group of individuals partying without face masks, face shields nor observance of physical distancing protocols at the beach of the said resort.” BusinessWorld sought the resort management’s comment via its social media page and email, but has yet to receive a response as of this writing. The DoT commended the local government of San Juan for revoking the business permit of the resort, which was already suspended for two weeks in September for health protocol violations. In Boracay, the department also lauded the vigilance and swift action taken by the Aklan police and provincial government after a group of tourists from Luzon were confirmed to have presented fake coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test results. The tourists have been brought to the designated quarantine facility and will be facing charges for falsification of documents and protocol violations. “(S)imilar malicious actions will not be condoned as they undermine the collaborative efforts at protecting and reviving Boracay tourism,” Ms. Puyat said in a separate statement on Wednesday.

Stoppage order on Skyway project lifted

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has lifted the stoppage order imposed on the Skyway Extension project following compliance by the contractor and subcontractors on penalties arising from a Nov. 14 accident that killed one motorist and injured several others. Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, in a briefing on Wednesday, said construction firm EEI Corp. and its subcontractors, Mayon machinery Rentrade and Bauer Foundations Philippines, Inc., have already paid the collective administrative fine of P170,000 per day of non-compliance, plus additional separate fines for each firm. The DoLE probe on the incident found the companies violated occupational safety and health protocols. The Labor department initially issued a work stoppage order for the entire stretch of the project but later adjusted it to just the area affected by the accident. “After consulting with our regional director and our occupational safety and health director, I decided to lift the work stoppage order with regards to that area where the accident took place,” Mr. Bello said. — Gillian M. Cortez

Motorcycle taxi firm Move It declared ‘fully compliant’ with gov’t guidelines

THE technical working group overseeing motorcycle taxi operations declared Move It (We-Load Transcargo Corp.) “fully compliant” with the health and safety guidelines set by the government. “The certificate shall be valid for the duration of the motorcycle taxi pilot study unless revoked or canceled,” the technical working group said in a statement. Angkas (DBDOYC, Inc.) and JoyRide (We Move Things Philippines, Inc.) have been issued the same certification. On Dec. 3, the motorcycle taxi technical working group granted Move It a provisional authority to operate under the extended motorcycle taxi program, “pending approval of the motorcycle taxi company’s enhanced/modified barrier by the national task force.” The provisional authority was valid until Dec. 8. Mass transportation currently operates on a limited capacity due to physical distancing protocols aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019. — Arjay L. Balinbin