INSIDE PAGE by Fernan A. Gianan:

Travelers victimized by private vans

For several months now, there have been countless reports of numerous passengers victimized by unscrupulous operators of private vans offering their transport services from Metro Manila to Tabaco.

And despite the accounts of the problems encountered by the travelers that have posted on social media, the sad stories of passengers cheated of their precious cash have not abated.

Last week, several passengers bound for the island were found by the Tabaco border control team to be carrying fake RT-PCR results.

According to one of them, she was asked to accompany her young relative from Cavite back to Catanduanes. She was told to look for a Bicol-bound van near the Philtranco station and indeed she found one and was assured that all was in order as the van, with plate number DCP-5358, traveled to Bicol daily.

They were asked to pay P2,500 each for the fare and an additional P700 each for the swab test, which turned out to be fake.

At the port, she told the team that the passengers were provided the contact number of one Jobert Torrente (09061510926) as well as that of the driver (09777675975).

Two other victims rued that they almost went to jail for the spurious travel document when they booked a ride on a private van for P2,800 each, including the swab test allegedly performed at Marilao Medical Diagnostic Clinic’s branch at Silang, Cavite. They were bringing to San Miguel town the ashes of their cremated mother.

They identified the travel booker as one Art Basque, with CP number 09503564802, the unidentified driver with CP number 09453047644, and the operators of the van (DCP-9316) as Nataniel and Mary Valencia

Among the other victims of similar van operators were three individuals bound for Viga, including the wife of a ranking PDEA official.

Despite their misfortune, most of these travelers were allowed in for humanitarian considerations after testing negative in antigen tests at the port and coordination with their LGUs.

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Cebu Pacific Airways is reportedly doubling the frequency of its flights from just two to the usual pre-pandemic four, due to the increasing number of passengers in the Manila-Virac-Manila route.

The passenger load in the 78-seater ATR-72 jetprop has reached over 40 in recent flights, according to Virac airport personnel.

The uptick in the number of flying commuters occurred despite stricter travel requirements imposed by the provincial government, particularly the negative RT-PCR swab test result, prior to approval of the application for Travel Coordination Permit (TCP).

One passenger told this writer that he and his grandson had to shell out P3,800 each for the test, unlike APORs and essential personnel who only have to show their IDs and travel orders.

For the education of those who have not yet ventured out of the NCR via NAIA-3, the traveler is asked by the guard at the gate to present either the swab test result or the approved TCP, so it would be advisable to have them printed or a screenshot saved on one’s cellphone.

The same thing is done at the airline’s document checking counter, which pores over your documents and checks their lists, before the passenger is referred to the check-in counter.

After the usual security checks before entering the departure area, the passenger proceeds to Gate 133-A or 133-B to wait for the boarding call.

However, it would be good to ask the personnel at the boarding gate for the three forms that each passenger is supposed to fill up and turn over to the health check personnel at Virac airport. If you don’t before the boarding announcement, you would have to fill them up hurriedly and miss the first bus to the plane.

By the way, those fond of bringing home “pasalubong” like Krispy Kreme and other delights would have to buy them the day before the flights. Most of the shops at the departure lounge are already closed, with only a coffee shop, a grocery store, a stall selling “puto”, and the Army Navy fastfood outlet still open.

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LOST & FOUND. A man went into a bank and withdrew $3,000 in cash. To keep the bills together, he bound them with a rubber band. Then he stuffed the wad of money in his pocket and headed for the door. But he had only gone a few yards down the street when he noticed to his horror that the money was missing. Certain that he hadn’t had his pocket picked, he assumed that the bundle of bills must have simply fallen out of his pocket.

As he rushed back into the bank, he collided with an elderly customer.

“Have you lost some money tied in a rubber band?” asked the old man.

“Yes, I have!”

“Well, I’ve found the rubber band.”

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