Garcia to personally meet with President Duterte to present Cebu figures
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia plans to defend Cebu’s policy on Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) to President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañang Palace on Monday, May 31, 2021.
This she said in an interview with radio station DYSS on Friday, May 28, 2021, a day after the President issued an order redirecting all Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) bound international flights to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The governor said Presidential Assistant to the Visayas, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, set up a meeting between Cebu officials and the president at Malacañang on Monday.
Garcia said she will face the President to defend Cebu as he may not be aware of the actual situation in the island and his advisors, who have not visited Cebu recently, may be giving advices based on the situation in the nation’s capital.
“Moadto ta kay aron mopresentar ta sa figures sa Cebu, unsay kahimtang gyod nato nga gani, kaluoy sa Diyos, MGCQ na ta dugay na kaayo. Ila unta irecognize nga dili nila maadopt ang whole of nation approach,” said Garcia.
(We will go to present the figures of Cebu and what is our real situation when in fact, by the mercy of God, we’ve been under MGCQ for quite some time already. I hope they recognize that they shouldn’t adopt a whole of the nation approach.)
Garcia said that she was already informed ahead of time by the Department of Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas (DILG-7) Director Leocadio Trovela that the diversion of international flights was an option that the national government planned to take.
The DILG had allegedly requested Garcia to suspend her Executive Order (EO) and the Provincial Ordinance regulating the entry of ROFs at the MCIA, but the governor said it was not in her nature to take back what she has already decided on.
Garcia said that she cannot do anything with the order of diverting the flights, including whether Cebuanos will be quarantined for 10 to 14 days in Manila upon arrival. However, if the diversion goes beyond the one week order of the President, she will make an appeal as she is concerned that the airport will lose profit.
“Ako wa nakoy power over Manila. Kung gusto mo nga inyo nang ipada inyong flights didto, wa koy mahimo ana. Pero kung padugayon ninyo ang pagdivert sa flights, motingog na pud ko kay mawadan na pud og revenue ang airport,” the governor said. “In the meantime, please do not ask me to suspend my EO or the provincial ordinance. Ang ako pud nga diri sa Cebu, napakita nato nga mas epektibo ni atong pamaagi.”
(I don’t have power over Manila. If you choose to divert flights there, I can’t do anything about that. But if you extend the period of the diversion of flights, I will say something about that because the airport will lose revenue. In the meantime, please do not ask me to suspend my EO or the provincial ordinance. Mine is just that here in Cebu, we have proven that our ways are more effective.)
Garcia noted that Cebu’s policy is far from deviating from the original Interagency Task Force (IATF) policy because the ROFs are swabbed twice, upon arrival and on the seventh day.
The only difference is that if they prove negative to the virus on the first swab test, they can be quarantined at home until the seventh day.
Garcia pleaded to the President to see sense in the policy, considering that ROFs who are not Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are not covered with the government assistance. They pay for their own tickets and have to pay up to P50,000 for a ten-day quarantine period in a Department of Health (DOH)-accredited hotel.
“Kanang ROF muuli, wa may mobayad ana iyang hotel. Unya pa stayhon nimo’g napu ka adlaw tag nga tres mil ang gabii. Nangutang na gani sa pagpalit og ticket, pabayrun napud nimog traynta o singkwenta mil. Itabang nalang unta na niya sa iyang pamilya,” she said.
(When ROFs come home, nobody pays for their hotel. And yet we let them stay for 10 days [in a facility] for P3,000 per night. They already borrowed money to buy their tickers, and still we let them pay P30,000 to P50,000 for a 10-day quarantine period in a DOH-accredited hotel.)
The policy of Cebu, which is mostly applicable to Cebu residents, could save ROFs money when they return home.
Furthermore, the local policy could also free up space in the quarantine facilities for those with actual coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection, thereby preventing the overwhelming of the health care system.
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