Board member on Año’s claims over Cebu’s swab ordinance: It’s his opinion
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Local officials here stood firm on their ground that the Provincial Ordinance creating Cebu’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy did not violate any laws, and that the national government cannot ‘override it’.
This developed after Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año raised ‘legal concerns’ related to the ordinance during Tuesday’s Senate hearing.
Cebu 3rd District Board Member John Ismael Borgonia said Año’s claims had no bearing and will not affect the ordinance.
“We are a government of laws, not of men… Dili pasabot nga mao na iyang gisulti, mao na ang balaod (Just because he claimed something does not mean it’s the law),” Borgonia told members of the media in a phone interview.
Borgonia is the primary author of Provincial Ordinance No. 2021 – 04, also known as the Swab-Upon-Arrival policy for Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
He reiterated that the protocol, which was first introduced by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia through an Executive Order (EO) last March and eventually adapted as part of local laws, did not violate any laws.
Borgonia, who also happens to be a lawyer, pointed out that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF), the national government’s anti-COVID task force, can only issue guidelines.
He also said the Office of the President’s power is to make sure local government units are implementing and following the law.
“Wala siya’y (IATF & Office of the President) power to substitute sa judgment sa atong mga local government units (They don’t have the power to substitute the judgment of our local government units),” explained Borgonia.
The Provincial Board is expected to pass a resolution in their next regular session to formally invite members and medical experts from the IATF to present their data before the local legislative body if it meant convincing the latter why Cebu must abide by the former’s guidelines.
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