Año: National gov’t can ‘override’ Cebu ordinance
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Can the national government override Cebu’s ordinance that created its Swab-Upon-Arrival policy?
For Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, yes.
Año, during the Senate hearing on the national government’s vaccination campaign and quarantine protocols held last Tuesday, June 15, said local governments should always follow the orders of the executive branch.
In particular, Año stressed that “no amount of Executive Order or Ordinance from the Province can defeat the power of the President.”
“Hindi naman po kailangan mag ultra vires because the ordinance or the resolution is, in the first place, opposing the resolution that has been approved by the President,” Año told the Senators.
“Since local government units are under the Executive Branch, they are expected to follow the command of the national government exercised through the executive power of the local chief executive,” he added.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who was also present in Tuesday’s Senate hearing, once again invoked Sec. 105 of the Local Government Code in response to Año’s claims.
“I am quoting a national law, Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government, which ensures local autonomy in accordance with the Constitution and Sec. 105 of RA 7160… Be that as of may, Mr. President (Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III), this is a legal issue which I do not wish to delve into,” said Garcia.
The Cabinet member was referring to Provincial Ordinance No. 2021 – 04 or also known as the Swab-Upon-Arrival policy of Cebu.
A deviation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease’s (IATF) swab-on-the-seventh day, it requires Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to have their swab samples collected upon arrival, and on the 7th day.
They will undergo quarantine in accredited hotel rooms until their test result show they are negative of COVID-19.
Cebu residents can proceed to their hometowns once proven they are not infected with virus. Their local health authorities will be the ones to conduct the second round of swab test.
But for transiting passengers, their stay in isolation hotel rooms may be prolonged if the local government of their destination requires them to do so.
Local officials in Central Visayas insisted that Cebu’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy, which is also backed by some Senators, did not violate any guidelines from the IATF.
They added that the policy or ordinance can only be deemed invalid or ultra vires by a court.
Garcia, on the other hand, has also invited members of the IATF, as well as its Technical Advisory Group, to present their data before the Provincial Board. /
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