THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu Chapter passed a resolution on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, requesting concerned government agencies to adopt the swab-upon-arrival policy of Cebu.
The Cebu lawyers group passed the resolution amid two inconsistent policies of Cebu Province and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
IBP Cebu chapter requested concerned government agencies to reconcile and harmonize the policies, rules, regulations, and procedures for arriving OFWs and ROFs.
Capitol issues travel protocols for repatriated OFWs, returning non-OFWs
Guv invokes local government code to address ROF, OFW quarantine policy
Cebu-bound int'l flights get diverted to Manila again
The lawyers asked the agencies concerned to adopt the Swab-Upon-Arrival-Policy of Cebu under Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia's Executive Order No. 17, Series of 2021 and Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-04 of the Province of Cebu "for being a responsive measure to the plight of returning OFWs and ROFs consistent with the Constitutional mandate of providing adequate social services and an improved quality of life for all as well as the protection and promotion of the right to health and of health consciousness of the people in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic."
Copy of the resolution as furnished to the Office of the President, Department of Health, IATF, Office of the Governor (Province of Cebu), and all concerned agencies.
The Provincial Government of Cebu mandates that upon arrival of OFWs or ROFs, a swab test should immediately be conducted and that if the result of the Reverse Transcription- Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) be negative, they shall then be allowed to proceed to their homes where can continue the compliance to the quarantine period.
On the seventh day, a swab test will again be conducted in compliance with the directive of the IATF for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.
On the other hand, the IATF Resolution No. 114 as amended by Resolution No. 116, mandates that upon arrival of OFWs and ROFs, they need to undergo a quarantine period for a total of 14 days wherein the first 10 days shall be spent at an accredited quarantine facility and the remainder will be completed under home quarantine in their local government unit of destination.
Unlike the swab-upon-arrival of Cebu, the IATF's swab testing is conducted on the seventh day and despite the negative test result of the RT-PCR test, the 10-day quarantine period in the accredited facility still needs to be completed.
Quarantine expenses for OFWs are being shouldered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration while ROFs personally spend for their stay in quarantine hotels.
In passing the resolution, the IBP Cebu chapter sees the "financial and emotional burden of returning OFWs and ROFs brought about by long periods of quarantine considering their limited time to stay with their families at home due to the demands of their work abroad.
The inconsistent policies have already resulted in the diversion of inbound international flights from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Ninoy Aquino International Airport for two weeks. (MVG)