Bending the rules for rich: Berna puts her foot down on Bobby Ongpin’s shrewd Balesin scheme to evade COVID travel restrictions | Bilyonaryo Business News
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Bending the rules for rich: Berna puts her foot down on Bobby Ongpin’s shrewd Balesin scheme to evade COVID travel restrictions

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat has warned bilyonaryo Bobby Ongpin that his scheme to enable guests to travel to his Balesin island resort during the Holy Week bubble would be in breach of government regulations.

Romulo-Puyat said Ongpin’s scheme to exploit a loophole in the Inter-Agency Task Force rules on ban on non-essential travel through the Easter holiday ( March 21 to April 4) would not be tolerated.

“The exceptions for non-essential travel should not be used as a means to circumvent the restrictions. There is a reason for the rule and the exceptions as well. The guidelines are clear, when we talk of medical exemptions we are talking about medical emergencies or those cases with urgency,“ said Romulo-Puyat in a statement.

In a letter to Balesin members, Ongpin offered members a way to dodge the IATF’s bubble rules barring residents in Metro Manila and nearby provinces from going out to contain the recent surge in COVID cases.

“We are aware that essential travel is not allowed. However there is an exception with reference to travel for ‘medical purposes’.

In order to address the problem of how one gets from Metro Manila to Clark, I have asked our Medial Director of Aegile Wellness Center, Dr. Ben Valdecanas, to develop an anti-COVID immunity treatment program for which all intending visitors to Balesin, whether members or guests, can legitimately sign up,” said the former Marcos Trade Minister.

“We intend to request that this Balesin anti-COVID immunity treatment program also be accepted for travel between NAIA and Balesin; meanwhile, we will have to fly from Clark,” he added.

Ongpin claimed that he has “consulted with responsible government officials” about his scheme and that he was told “it is not government’s intention to shut down legitimate COVID-free operations.

The government’s recent order to cut down on unnecessary travel apparently threw a spanner in Ongpin’s plan to take in the huge number of people who have booked to stay in his playground for the rich during the Holy Week.

“For several days during that week, there will be more than 1,000 members and guests in more than 320 villas, … the largest we have ever had,” said Ongpin in a separate letter to Balesin members before the IATF declared the bubble restrictions.

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