Arriving passengers at the Mactan Cebu International Airport are required to fill up health forms. /Photos courtesy of MCIAA| Photos courtesy of MCIAA
CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Provincial Board Member John Ismael Borgonia said he is not surprised and, in fact, expected Malacañang’s decision to reject the appeal of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia to the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to allow Cebu’s policies for returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) to apply only to its residents.
Borgonia made the statement on Friday, July 2, 2021, after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Thursday, July 1, that President Rodrigo Duterte has decided on a uniform policy for ROFs to be observed in the entire country.
“It’s not surprising and I already expected that response from the Malacañang… Personally, I am surrendering on this issue, and would like to move on and move forward to other pressing matters in the province that needs our preferential attention,” said Borgonia.
Borgonia authored Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-04, which strengthened the governor’s Executive Order No.17, mandating the testing of ROFs and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) upon arrival.
Malacañang issued the statement two days after Garcia appealed to the IATF to allow the province to implement its own policies for arriving passengers from abroad.
Under the said ordinance, ROFs and OFWs will be swabbed upon arrival, and once the result is negative, they can proceed to their point of destination where they will continue their quarantine.
In her appeal during the PB’s special session with the IATF medical and technical experts, Garcia emphasized that those who are non-Cebuanos that will take the Cebu route will be gladly accommodated for the 10-day quarantine in the hotels.
She said this move will help returning Cebuanos to save their hard-earned money from being spent in the mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine.
Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, however, also said on Tuesday, June 29, that the request of Garcia has to be deliberated upon by the IATF, stressing that his personal thoughts or feelings on the matter are irrelevant.
Borgonia said that he cannot do anything with regard to the implementation of the national policies now that Duterte had spoken.
“As a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, I cannot do anything with regard to the implementation of the ordinance. It’s true nga murag gi-yatakan nalang atong ordinance ug gibaliwala atong local automony nga mudumala sa probinsya,” he said.
However, Borgonia stressed that even if the ordinance is not being followed, it will not mean that they should amend it just to conform with the “constant changing policies of the IATF” saying that they based the ordinance on IATF’s own policy No.95.
“We will never know if, in the next few months, a new policy may be issued that may conform to our existing ordinance,” he added.
Duque, along with the other IATF officials including Secretary Karlo Nograles, Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez, Jr., DOH technical experts, and a World Health Organization (WHO) expert, came to Cebu to discuss with the provincial board the differences in the policies relating to Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
They cited the Delta variant of COVID-19 as the major concern that should be considered in the protocols in airports saying that the variant’s transmission is high especially during transit and that it has a lower incubation period. /rcg
Garcia’s request to IATF: Allow Cebu policies to apply to Cebu residents
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