More Senators back Cebu’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy
CEBU CITY, Philippines – More Senators are backing Cebu province’s own Swab-Upon-Arrival policy, a few days after Malacañang announced all international flights bound for Mactan to be diverted to the country’s capital.
Senators Sonny Angara and Bong Revilla, in separate statements, said they supported the Capitol’s move to swab Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) upon arriving at Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
Angara said he hoped Cebu’s swabbing procedures for ROFs and OFWs, which deviated those from the policies rolled out by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID), could be implemented nationwide.
“Suportado natin ang quarantine rules and testing protocols ng lalawigan ng Cebu sa pangunguna ni Gov. Gwen Garcia at sana’y ganito na rin ang ipatupad ng IATF sa iba’t ibang panig ng bansa,” Angara said.
(We support the quarantine rules and testing protocols of the province of Cebu led by Gov. Gwen. Garcia and we hope the IATF will apply this for the entire country.)
Revilla, on the other hand, said he has sent a letter addressed to Garcia, lauding her initiative.
“I laud the provincial government of Cebu for extending humanitarian considerations to our OFWs and ROFs who are besieged with various challenges during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Revilla.
Both Angara and Revilla agreed that prolonging the quarantine of a Filipino traveler from abroad just meant added burden.
They also said the province’s protocols did not necessarily violate the objectives of IATF and that is to screen incoming passengers for signs of COVID-19.
Other officials and groups that backed Garcia’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy included Senate President Tito Sotto, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Cebu Chapter (IBP-Cebu), and at least eight Cebuano lawmakers.
The Swab-Upon-Arrival policy was first introduced in March as Executive Order (EO) No. 17 then in May officially became law after the Provincial Board passed Provincial Ordinance No. 2021 – 04.
It swayed away from the whole-of-nation swabbing policy being mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (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 to 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.
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