CEBU CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas can continue the swab testing upon arrival of returning Filipinos at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and place them under 10-day hotel quarantine based on the national protocols, a Cabinet official said.
“We request the DOH-7 to continue, still at no cost to the arriving international passengers, the test-upon-arrival protocol that Cebu has been practicing since last year, considering that this key protocol has proven effective in allowing us to detect cases as early as possible, while at the same time, continuing the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) protocol of testing on the seventh day after arrival,” Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, presidential assistant for the Visayas, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Dino urged Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to provisionally implement the national requirement of 10-day hotel quarantine for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning Filipino overseas (RFOs) after arrival until a mutually agreed and effective set of policies and protocols may be reached in the upcoming dialogue.
IATF officials led by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will meet the members of the Provincial Board in Cebu on June 28, 2021.
Dino said he understands the position of Garcia, noting that the protocols set by the province of Cebu are based on science, actual data, and real experience on the ground.
“We have utmost trust that both President Duterte and Governor Garcia only have the welfare of the people at heart, and our support for our brave and passionate leaders remains absolute and strong,” he said.
The presidential assistant brought Garcia to Malacañang last June 1 to present the protocols under Executive Order 17 and supported by Cebu Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-04, to Duterte. EO 17, issued last March, ordered that all arriving Filipino passengers from abroad must be swabbed upon their arrival at the MCIA.
Duterte on Monday stood firm that the arrival protocols framed by the IATF be followed to ensure public safety.
Under the IATF protocols, ROF and OFWs should undergo quarantine for at least 10 days and swab tests on the seventh day from the date of their arrival.
This is different from Cebu’s policy with arriving passengers being required to undergo swab tests upon arrival at the MCIA and will then be taken to a hotel where they would stay for three days to wait for the test results.
“We respect the wisdom of the President and shall expect all parties to willfully and dutifully implement the IATF arrival protocols for OFWs and ROFs as directed,” Dino said.
As this developed, Garcia on Tuesday withdrew her Executive Order 23 threatening criminal and administrative charges against government officials and agencies that will defy the province’s protocol for OFWs and ROFs.
“This executive order I am now setting aside in deference to the President even as we look forward to the scheduled meeting on the 28th of June with Secretary Duque and the same technical experts who had advised the President last night as regards the need to strictly implement the IATF guidelines,” Garcia said in an address streamed live in social media via the Capitol’s news arm.
Cebu City acting Mayor Michael Rama on Wednesday expressed optimism the impasse between the IATF and the provincial capitol over which testing and quarantine protocols should be followed at the airport would be settled once and for all.
“It’s a good development that there’s a sort of aligning… on the basis of what can be done without having to defy the pronouncement of the national government and still achieving the same intention (of the President),” Rama said in a radio interview. (PNA)