Gwen questions ‘disparity’ of rates between Cebu and Manila hotel isolation rooms
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Key officials from the local and national government, and members of the private sector here are planning to expand the number of quarantine hotel rooms for Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia on Monday, June 7, 2021, met with heads from the Central Visayas offices of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Health (DOH), Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), and the Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), a day after the Mactan airport reaccepted international flights.
To recall, Malacañang ordered all international flights bound for MCIA to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from May 29 to June 5.
Garcia, on Monday, told reporters in a press conference that during their meeting, stakeholders agreed to open more hotel rooms to accommodate arriving ROFs and OFWs who needed a place to stay as they wait for their RT-PCR test results.
She said they have proposed to have 5,000 hotel rooms accredited as isolation rooms, which is twice as compared to the present inventory of 2,500.
“Upon proper inspection and accreditation, the DOT together with DOH, within the week, might expand up to over 5,000 rooms,” Garcia said.
Cebu implements a Swab-Upon-Arrival policy, which deviates from those mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF).
But Garcia questioned the ‘huge discrepancy’ of room rates between those located in Metro Manila and those in Cebu.
This prompted her to seek clarification from the Commission on Audit (COA).
“There is a huge disparity of what is being paid by OWWA in our hotels here, which is P1,400… And on the other hand, in Manila, for a 3-star hotel, it’s P2,500. Then it goes up to P2,800 to P3,000,” she said.
Garcia, citing information the Capitol received from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), said the government is paying P1,400 for a night’s stay in Cebu hotels while rates in Metro Manila ranged from P2,500 up to P3,000.
“That P1,400 does not only include accommodation but also the three meals a day. It’s a losing proposition for our hotels. I wouldn’t blame them and those who aren’t excited in joining (to apply to operate for dual purpose – isolation and leisure),” Garcia explained.
“They (OWWA) said (the difference in the rates) is because of COA limitations. I asked the regional director of COA here in Region 7 to check what is allowed only, and whether or not in fact there is such as a limitation. She said she is not aware of such a cap, and that she is double-checking whether there is a cap,” she added.
Before Malacañang directed all inbound international flights bound for MCIA to be diverted to NAIA, authorities here found out that 80 percent of arriving ROFs and OFWs are only transiting Cebu before reaching their respective destinations.
It came to a point where airport officials of Mactan had to temporarily stop accepting inbound passengers from abroad, from May 14 to May 15, as the number of isolation rooms in hotels reached near full capacity.
Cebu allows ROFs and OFWs to be released from their isolation rooms if they test negative of COVID-19.
For residents here, they have to be subjected to another swab test by the local government where they reside. Hotel stay for non-Cebu residents, however, may be prolonged if the local government of their destination will require them to do so.
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