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Double-swabbing required for arriving OFWs, ROFs
Upon motion of Board Member Celestino Martinez III, the provincial legislative body, during a special session, also passed a resolution asking the national government and the IATF to reconsider the diversion of flights to Manila.

Double-swabbing required for arriving OFWs, ROFs

Le Phyllis F. Antojado (The Freeman) - June 12, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Cebu Provincial Board approved yesterday an amendment to the ordinance setting the protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning Filipinos (ROFs) amid the controversy the Cebu protocol has created with the Inter-Agency Task Force, prompting Malacañang to divert all inbound international flights for Mactan Cebu International Airport to Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Upon motion of Board Member Celestino Martinez III, the provincial legislative body, during a special session, also passed a resolution asking the national government and the IATF to reconsider the diversion of flights to Manila.

Inbound international flights for Cebu were diverted to Manila from May 29 to June 5. The Palace extended it until today, June 12.

IATF officials did not approve of Cebu’s “swab-upon-arrival” protocol for OFWs and ROFs that requires shorter period of hotel quarantine. The national task force wants all arriving OFWs and ROFs should complete a 10-day quarantine in a hotel at government expense.             

Under the Cebu protocol, OFWs and ROFs will be tested upon arrival then will wait at the quarantine hotel until the result comes out. Upon the release of a negative rt-PCR test result, the OFW and ROF shall be allowed to go home and complete the required 14 days quarantine either at home or at a facility run by the local government unit to be monitored by the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT).

Double-Swabbing

The Provincial Board amended the ordinance yesterday by including the 7th day swabbing as required in the executive order issued by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

The amended ordinance now states that those OFWs and ROFs who are Cebu residents with negative result at the MCIA "shall be immediately released and allowed to proceed to their LGUs of residence where they will undergo facility or home quarantine for the remaining balance of fourteen (14) days to be monitored by the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams".

On the seventh day of their isolation at the LGU facility or at home they will be swabbed again. If the result comes positive the Department of Health (DOH) protocols on COVID-19 will be followed.

For OFWs and ROFs who are not Cebu residents, they shall be released and allowed to leave for their LGU of destination that is outside Cebu once they tested negative on their first swab test upon their arrival.

The LGU of destination shall be responsible for their second swab test on the 7th day. The amendment was unanimously approved on third and final reading.

PB Member John Ismael Borgonia, who authored the ordinance, said the only difference between the Cebu protocols and that of the IATF is the isolation venue.

IATF Resolution No. 119 states that international arrivals shall be subjected to seven days isolation at the quarantine hotel. They will only be swabbed once they manifest symptoms of COVID-19.

In Cebu, Borgonia said that “home quarantine will suffice so we are not in contradiction to the IATF guideline."

 Borgonia explained that in the hierarchy of laws "the constitution shall be put first then the laws enacted by the congress."

According to him, their action was anchored on the power vested to local officials under the Local Government Code.

He added that executive orders, which the IATF was created, are only third in the order of hierarchy of laws.

"We all know for the fact that the executive department, executive branch under the office of the President who created the IATF, their powers are limited and should be within and in conformity with the law of the Republic of the Philippines. Meaning it should be in harmony with the Local Government Code. So with that Mr. Chair, I am in the opinion that this ordinance just stood its ground legally," Borgonia explained.

More support

Meanwhile, the Cebu protocol continues to gain support from local and national officials.

Senators Francis Tolentino and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel yesterday joined their colleagues who earlier expressed support for the local protocol.

The circle of supporters also includes Senators Risa Hontiveros, Joel Villanueva, Miguel Zuburi, Sonny Angara, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III. The policy is also backed by all seven congressmen of Cebu and Ako Bisaya Partylist Rep. Sonny Lagon and Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera. – FPL (FREEMAN)

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