Issue of August 2, 2020
     
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LTFRB warns unauthorized travels in and out of Baguio
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

STRICT BORDER CHECKPOINT -- Public and private vehicles wait for their turn to pass through the Covid-19 border checkpoint along the Palispis-Aspiras Highway as uniformed personnel manning the checkpoints along the city’s borders remain vigilant against unauthorized travels, especially those coming from the lowlands who are avoiding the mandatory triage, or with bogus travel passes. All returning residents, including foreign students, are required to pass through triage either at Saint Vincent’s Gym or at Teacher’s Camp. -- Contributed photos

Baguio may be one of the local government units with strict border control measures but people still find a way to reach the city without having to apply for travel permit.

Posts circulating on social media show that for a fee, private vehicle drivers are able to ferry passengers coming from the lowlands or going out of Baguio without going through the triage by picking them up at auto dealing shops along the Palispis-Aspiras (Marcos) Highway.

This has prompted the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to warn drivers that ferrying passengers without permits issued by the agency and the LGU is illegal.

At the same time, the LTFRB has appealed to the public to report to them those who offer rides for a fee so that penalties can be imposed on those responsible, as private vehicles that ferry passengers for a fee are considered colorum.

In the table of penalties for violation franchise, buses that operate without authority from the LTFRB or those with franchise but operate outside their prescribed route will be fined P1 million, the unit will be impounded for three months, revocation of the franchise of the entire fleet, blacklisting of the apprehended vehicle, and cancellation of registration of apprehended vehicle and the other authorized units.

For trucks and vans, P200,000 fine; three months impounding; and revocation of franchise (if issued a franchise but operating differently from its denomination such school service but operating as tourist transport service); blacklisting; and cancellation of registration.

For sedan, P120,000 fine; three months impounding; revocation of franchise; blacklisting; and cancellation of registration.

For jeepney, P50,000 fine; three months impounding; revocation of franchise; blacklisting; and cancellation of registration.

For motorcycles, P5,000 fine; three months impounding; revocation of franchise; blacklisting; and cancellation of registration.

Smuggling of people into Baguio using cargo trucks was first reported in April at the height of the Luzonwide lockdown.

To deter the practice, the Highway Patrol Group has conducted random checkpoints in major road networks coming in and out of the city.

When quarantine rules were relaxed, LGUs allowed entry of people but only for essential travel and were required to submit documents such as health certificate, travel authority, employment certificate ID card, and have to undergo triage.

Recently, it was reported that tourists were already in Baguio and are suspected to have been smuggled in by tour operators prompting City Mayor Benjamin Magalong to warn that criminal cases will be filed if authorities find out that non-essential travelers are allowed entry despite the restrictions.


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