MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte questioned current quarantine rules for arriving travelers to the Philippines, citing costly quarantine accommodations at hotels last September 30.

“If you can talk to the (Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases or IATF), (does the moment demand it) and is it really compelling to complete a 10-day detention?” Duterte said, saying that the current 10 to 14 days should be cut down to seven days “since it will only take that long for symptoms to manifest.”

Duterte also noted that existing quarantine arrangements burdened the government, footing bills paid to hotels used as quarantine facilities. 

“Pati ‘yung utang natin. Kasi ‘yung mga hotel na ginagamit natin, maganda. Manila HotelDiamond Hotel. Hindi ito basta-basta,” he said.

In the same briefing, Department of Local and Interior Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Año confirmed they are working to shorten the quarantine period for fully vaccinated people to five-seven days.

Meanwhile, Duterte also revealed, “Ang bait ng Amerika. Baka pupunta ako doon. Just to thank the American government and (its) people,” Duterte said.

The statement follows vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.’s confirmation that the US will send five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines. 

In a report by ABS-CBN Newsduring last month’s marking of the 70th anniversary of the two countries’ Mutual Defense Treaty, US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, met with Foreign Affairs (DFA) Sec. Teodoro Locsin and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana. Sullivan said Washington will provide $11.3 million in COVID-19 assistance to Manila. 

DOT backed calls for shorter isolation period for fully vaccinated international travelers

In another report by ABS-CBN Newsthe Department of Tourism (DOT) through Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat, supported calls to shorten the quarantine period of fully vaccinated international travelers. 

“This is a crucial step towards the eventual resumption of international travel once our borders re-open, leading to the recovery of the pandemic-hit sector,” Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

“This move to ease quarantine restrictions is also important to our kababayans who have been longing to be reunited with their families as the holiday season approaches. We also recognize the financial burden of isolating in hotels for a long period of time,” she added.

Last July, the IATF modified the protocols for fully-vaccinated individuals who can avail of “green lanes” by releasing a list of ineligible individuals under Resolution 128-A. 

“Individuals whose port of origin is not a green country or jurisdiction cannot avail of green lanes. Those who stayed outside a green country or jurisdiction at any time in the last 14 days prior to their arrival in the Philippines are also not qualified for green lanes,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said. 

“Effective July 1, travelers who were fully vaccinated in “green” countries or those with low COVID-19 risk would be allowed to shorten their facility quarantine to seven days, from the current 10 days,” Roque added, noting the travelers should have “exclusively stayed” in a green country for two weeks before arriving in the Philippines. 

Previously, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion urged the Duterte administration to consider shortening the quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers from North America for the Christmas season. 

Following a meeting with Philippine Airlines (PAL) last month, Concepcion also backed the flag carrier’s proposal for international flight passengers to undergo testing three days before departure, quarantine upon arrival and take a confirmatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on the third day.

Concepcion, who pushes for vaccine bubbles for the fully vaccinated backed by more than 1,000 business owners and franchisees, said letting vaccinated people travel will help both the transport sector and the tourism industry. 

“By allowing more mobility to the vaccinated, many people who are relying on Tourism for their livelihood can earn enough money for their everyday needs,” Concepcion said.