IBP Cebu says Swab-Upon-Arrival policy did not violate Constitution
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Cebu Chapter (IBP-Cebu) backed Cebu province’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy, saying it did not violate any laws.
IBP-Cebu issued Resolution No. 6-8-2021, dated June 8, 2021, urging government agencies here to adopt the Capitol’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy for arriving Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
“On mass motion of the Board of Officers, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, to request the concerned government agencies to reconcile and harmonize the policies, rules, regulations, and procedures as regards arriving OFWs and ROFs by adopting the Swab-Upon-Arrival Policy of Cebu pursuant to Executive Order No. 17, Series of 2021, and Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-04 of the Province of Cebu for being a responsive measure to the plight of returning OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and ROFs (Returning Overseas Filipinos) consistent with the Constitutional mandate of providing adequate social services and an improved quality of life for all as well as the protection and promotion of the right to health and of health consciousness of the people in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” portions of the four-page resolution read.
According to the IBP resolution, the province’s swabbing policies, albeit inconsistent with those mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID), did not violate the Constitution.
“The Swab-Upon-Arrival-Policy of Cebu is likewise consistent with the Constitution on the adoption of policies, which provide adequate social services and an improved quality of life for all as well as the protection and promotion of the right to health and of health consciousness of the people,” IBP-Cebu explained.
They also said the protocol will ’emotionally and financially benefit’ arriving OFWs and ROFs, and pointed out that Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s decision to invoke Section 105 of the Local Government Code to back the Swab-Upon-Arrival policy is valid and legal.
“IBP Cebu Chapter is fully aware of the financial and emotional burden of returning OFWs and ROFs brought about by long periods of quarantine considering their limited time to stay with their families at home due to the demands of their work abroad,” they said.
In the meantime, the group urged all concerned government agencies to harmonize and reconcile all inconsistent procedures affecting OFWs and ROFs.
“With the numerous concerns expressed above, it is respectfully submitted that there is a need to reconcile and harmonize the policies, rules, regulations, and procedures as regards arriving OFWs and ROFs in order to enable the bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively and to uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for law and of legal processes,” it added.
The Swab-Upon-Arrival policy was first introduced by Garcia through Executive Order (EO) No. 17 last March. It was later adopted into a Provincial Ordinance last May.
Despite multiple attempts and moves from key officials of the IATF to junk it, the governor stood firm with her decision.
Lately, the IATF extended the schedule of diverting all international flights bound for Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) up to June 12.
They first ordered all flights to be redirected to NAIA from May 29 to June 5, in what seemed to be a reprimand to the province. /rcg
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