The management of the Iwahig Corrections Facility (ICF) has indefinitely banned the visit of foreign tourists inside its compound as part of measures being undertaken to prevent the possible spread of the 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The ban was ordered by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) effective February 4, said Thursday by ICF spokesperson and corrections technical officer II Levi Evangelista to Palawan News.
Evangelista said it also covers family members of inmates with coughs and colds and flu who will visit their subcolonies.
He said foreign travelers with histories of travel in Cambodia, Canada, China, France, Finland, Germany, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, United States (of America), and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) are temporarily not allowed to visit.
“Inilabas ito noong January 31. Ang bureau ay nagkaroon ng action to prevent na pumasok itong nCoV inside BuCor prison compounds that’s why ‘yong visitation na-disrupt. ‘Yong regular visitation and transaction sa PDLs (persons deprived of liberty), lalo na ‘yong mga bisita na may ubo o sipon, lagnat ay hindi muna pinapadalaw,” he said.
Evangelista said that most of the tourists visiting the ICF compound as part of tour packages are Koreans.
He said the management is hoping that foreign travelers will understand the “situation”.
“Specifically, doon pero the administration is parang total ban muna sa foreign brothers natin to prevent yong pinaniniwalaan na ganito. Yon kasi ang initial action taken na ginawa na preventive measure, hindi naman si ICF but yong aming health and welfare director sa NBP (New Bilibid Prison) ang nagbababa ng ganitong memorandum kaya humihingi kami ng pang-unawa,” he said.
The temporary ban on foreign tourists is effective for all penal institutions of the BuCor across the country.
Evangelista said Filipino tourists are not banned as long as they do not have coughs and colds, and flu.
“Okay naman ang local tourists natin as long as wala silang ubo, pinapayagan naman natin, open pa rin naman. Business as usual, tuloy-tuloy yong ating souvenir shop. Nandito ang ating dancing inmate to entertain them. Basta wala silang… let’s say sa loob ng isang van… ay walang kasamang foreigner,” he said.
Even local tourists who are with foreigners in visiting the ICF are also not allowed to enter the premises of penal farm.
Evangelista said that ICF has initially deployed a nurse by profession who is also an employee of ICF that will screen at the main gate of central sub-colony to the local tourists to ensure that they do not have any illness such as cold, cough or fever.
“Since Monday, malaki ang reduction (ng turista), actually zero yong bisitang pumasok sa ating souvenir shop, tumingin sa pasilidad ng ICF kasi from the main gate pa lang ay pinagbabawalan na,” he said.
“Pero actually, kahit hindi sila pagbawalan sa main gate ay nag-lessen ng more than 60 percent talaga yong turistang pumupunta dito, hindi naging normal ang pagdalaw ng mga turista, perhaps ay nag-iingat din sila,” he said.