MCIAA assures foreigners due for repatriation follow protocols
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) has assured that all foreigners that arrive in Cebu to board their repatriation flights have followed the proper protocols of the airport amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
MCIAA, in a statement, also clarified that repatriation efforts for the stranded foreigners in the country was not their initiative and that they were only following what was “mandated by the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).”
“We would like to assure our fellow Cebuanos that we, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, are following the proper protocols at the airport in dealing with the stranded foreign nationals,” MCIAA said in their statement on Thursday, April 2.
“They go through quarantine checks, and are required to follow airport precautionary measures against COVID-19. The responsibility of arranging their accommodations is not a function of the airport,” the airport authority added.
MCIAA and the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) earned the ire of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia after foreigners from outside Cebu province, who were bound for repatriation flights via MCIA, were allowed to enter the province allegedly without coordination with the provincial government.
Garcia said 38 foreigners landed via private plane at the MCIA on Saturday, March 28, 2020, while two others arrived at the Samboan port on Sunday, March 29, despite the province’s policy prohibiting the entry of anyone into the province amid the COVID-19 situation.
MCIAA General Manager Steve Dicdican, in an earlier statement, said they were “just as surprised about their arrival as there was no prior coordination with the airport nor with the Department of Tourism.”
“That resolution mandates free and unimpeded access to and from the airport and hotel for these stranded foreigners, notwithstanding any LGU pronouncement to the contrary,” Dicdican said.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, April 1, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. “begged” Garcia to allow the foreigners to get in Cebu and MCIA in order for them to board the sweeper flights back to their countries.
Locsin, in his tweets, said Cebu is making it hard to evacuate the stranded passengers.
Garcia, during a press conference, said she would allow the entry of the foreigners as long as there would be proper coordination with the provincial government and that the foreigners would be confined only within the airport premises.
To recall, Garcia hit MCIAA and DOT-7 for letting the foreigners who were due for repatriation spend overnight in hotels in Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu City. The check-ins of the foreigners were also not coordinated with the province.
“Any LGU that wishes for coordination on the hotels being used by the stranded foreign nationals should address such concern with the foreign embassies and consulates, or the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) or Department of Tourism (DoT), as these bookings are not within the purview of MCIAA’s functions,” the MCIAA said./dbs
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