Following gag order on DOH-7, PB to tap other medical experts for IATF meeting

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 21,2021 - 04:15 PM
Provincial Board Member John Ismael Borgonia says the PB will tap other medical experts to argue the Capitol's stand during the PB's meeting with the IATF. | Morexette Marie B. Erram

Provincial Board Member John Ismael Borgonia says the PB will tap other medical experts to argue the Capitol’s stand during the PB’s meeting with the IATF. | Morexette Marie B. Erram

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Members of the legislative body of the Capitol are now looking for other medical experts to help them present data and ultimately defend why Cebu must stick with its Swab-Upon-Arrival policy.

This developed after the Department of Health (DOH) has issued a ‘gag order’ over its Central Visayas office (DOH-7) last week.

“Manguha sad ta ug medical experts nga maka back sa atong data sa atong statistics, sa atong stand kay sila si Dr. (Mary Jean) Loreche ug DOH Region 7, although they are with us unta, pero the problem is they could not speak in contradiction with the (orders from the) DOH Central Office,” said Cebu 3rd District Provincial Board Member John Ismael Borgonia.

(We will have to get other medical experts that can back our data of our statistics on our stand because Dr. (Mary Jean) Loreche and DOH Region 7, although they are with us, but the problem is they could not speak in contradiction with the (orders from the) DOH Central Office.)

PB Member Borgonia on Monday, June 21, told reporters that the Provincial Board held a closed-door briefing with representatives from DOH-7 to provide legislators an overview on the data and arguments from health officials who supported the province’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy. 

“And we’ve seen (that) less than one percent sa mga returning OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and [returning] Overseas Filipinos (ROFs), ang mga balikbayan… ang ma positive sa swab on Day 1 and even balikan nila’g swab on Day 7. So, ato nakita nga dili ni sila maoy nakapasaka sa COVID cases. Local transmission gyud,” he said. 

(And We have seen [that] less than one percent of our returning OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] and [Returning] overseas Filipinos [ROFs], the balikbayan … will be found positive during the swab on Day 1 and even another swab on Day 7. So we saw that they were not the ones who caused the increase in cases. It is the local transmission.) 

Despite the recent development concerning DOH-7, the 3rd District Board Member and lawyer expressed confidence that the Provincial Board, as a whole, could convince the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID or IATF) why the province insisted in implementing its own protocols for OFWs and ROFs. 

“Wala na gyud siyay legal issue. It’s more on medical and scientific basis na lang gyud sa ordinance. Mao na lang gyud ang question ani, which dili man mi expert, maong manguha gyud tag laing expert nga mo volunteer nga maka argue on our behalf,” PB Member Borgonia said.

(We don’t have a legal issue. It is more on medical and scientific basis on the ordinance. That is the question here, which we are not an expert, so we have to get other experts, who would volunteer to argue on our behalf.) 

“It’s a good thing nga at least, on the legal side (and) legal basis ma enforce ang atong Provincial Ordinance cause we are confident of that and at the same time, ma resolve pod ang conflicting issues between the local government unit and the national IATF,” he added. 

(It is a good thing that at least, on the legal side (and) legal basis the Provincial ordinance will be enforced because we are confident of that, and at the same time, we can also resolve the conflicting issues between the local government unit and the national IATF.)

IATF Resolution 114, as amended by Resolution No. 116, required arriving Filipinos from abroad to be quarantined for 14 days upon their arrival where 10 days are to be spent in an accredited quarantine facility. 

They shall only be swabbed for COVID-19 on the seventh day from their arrival. 

Last March, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order (EO) No. 17 that would direct all incoming Filipino passengers to be swabbed upon arrival. 

It was later known as the province’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy. 

The EO was later adopted into Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-04, as amended by Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-05, formally making the protocols as part of Cebu’s local laws. 

The IATF has been insisting that local officials here should strictly follow the IATF guidelines instead.

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TAGS: DOH, DOH-7, IATF, medical experts, PB member, Provincial Board Member John Ismael Borgonia

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