Cebu sticks to own swabbing policy as int’l flights return to MCIA

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 07,2021 - 04:42 PM
Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia. |  CDN Digital file photo

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia. |  CDN Digital file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu province will stick to its swab-upon-arrival policy now that Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is reaccepting inbound international flights. 

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced on Monday, June 7, that key government officials here decided they would continue to implement the Swab-Upon-Arrival policy at the airport.

This after the Malacañang ordered to divert all international flights from MCIA to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City, Metro Manila from May 29 to June 5. 

“They were all in agreement that the provincial board ordinance is the recognized local law of the land. Unless it is otherwise declared ultra vires by a proper court,” said Garcia during her press conference today, June 7.

On Monday, the governor met with officials from the MCIA, and the Central Visayas offices of the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Tourism (DOT). 

 Andrew Andrew Acquaah-Harrison, GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) chief executive advisor, in a separate interview, said that the MCIA reopened to international flights since June 6. 

Harrison said the first two flights that landed were from Doha, Qatar via Qatar Airways, and Singapore via Scoot. 

Harrison said they followed the province’s swab-upon-arrival rule, and that they would still implement a limit in the number of international passengers to arrive here — at 300 per day. 

“We’re very happy that we had our first flights yesterday,” said Harrison. 

The Swab-Upon-Arrival for Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) was first formed through Executive Order (EO) No. 17 and issued last March. 

It was formalized and incorporated into local laws after the Provincial Board passed an ordinance of the same nature last May. 

It swayed away from the whole-of-nation swabbing policy being mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). 

Under IATF’s guidelines, ROFs and OFWs will have to complete the required 14-day quarantine rule, in which 10 days will be in designated quarantine facilities or hotel rooms, and the remaining four days in their respective houses. 

They will only be subjected for swab on the seventh day since their arrival. 

But Garcia remained firm on her decision to keep Cebu’s policies despite multiple attempts from national government officials, including the orders from the Palace to divert all international flights bound for MCIA, to scrap it. 

“We are innovating in order to custom fit our guidelines to our peculiar situations here. Our situation with our steadily dropping number of cases would seem to prove that what we are doing is effective not only of the science of it but also in the mathematics of it,” said Garcia on Monday.

“Let us remember these figures are not just numbers. These are Filipinos sacrificing abroad who are bringing the dollars not only for their own but also to our own economy,” she added.

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/dbs

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TAGS: Cebu‬, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, swabbing policy

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