Espinoza: What would happen to MCIAA officials?

·3 min read

THE Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) that runs the Mactan-Cebu International Airport was created by Republic Act (RA) 6958, authored by the late Cebu City 1st District Rep. Raul del Mar, was approved on July 31, 1990. It's an attached agency to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Under RA 6958, the MCIAA is mandated to undertake the economical, efficient and effective control, management and supervision of the MCIAA in the Province of Cebu and the Lahug Airport in Cebu City, and such other airports as may be established in the Province of Cebu. (MCIAA website)

To recall, when Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia insisted on implementing her Executive Order 17 that requires swab testing upon the arrival of returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) or overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at the airport, which is different from the health protocol being enforced nationwide by Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the DOTr ordered the diversion of the Cebu-bound international flights to NAIA.

The explanation from Malacañang that the diversion of the international flights for Cebu to NAIA in Manila has nothing to do with the EO 17 of Governor Garcia did not quell the rumors though that the sudden rerouting of the Cebu-bound international flights to Manila was in response to Cebu governor's EO 17, which is not compliant with the IATF's health protocol for the ROFs and OFWs.

In the IATF-DOH's protocol, the ROFs or OFWs will be swab-tested on the seventh day from their arrival and they will be billeted in the accredited hotels in Cebu up to the 10th day until the result is out. In EO 17, the ROFs or OFWs will be swab-tested upon their arrival and held for three days while waiting for the result. If the test is negative for Covid-19, they will be allowed to leave and proceed to their destination and their respective LGUs will do the monitoring.

In Tuesday’s (June 8) story of SunStar Cebu, the MCIAA will implement EO 17, now a law per Provincial Board Ordinance 2021-04, for the arriving passengers after the Cebu-bound international flights resumed on Sunday. No, this is not being cynical. But it happened lately that the Cebu-bound international flights were diverted to NAIA over the disagreement on the health protocols. Is it a possible that MCIAA officials could be sanctioned by the DoTr?

"So, they all agreed that they would have to follow the PB ordinance because they do not want to break the law or violate the law. That is for Cebuanos. For non-Cebuanos, we wait. If they insist that they be kept here, well, we shall be increasing the (quarantine) hotel rooms," Garcia said in her online program "Ang Probinsyana."

The EO 17 is supported by the different congressional district representatives of Cebu, including a party-list representative. To the ROFs and OFWs, the EO 17 is less burdensome and popular to the ROFs since they have to spend for their hotel stay while waiting for the result of the swab test. For the OFWs, Owwa shoulders the cost. The swab test for ROFs and OFWs is free.

President Rodrigo Duterte is yet to sign an executive order on whether to approve or not the protocol implemented by the Province of Cebu through EO 17, which Governor Garcia said an innovation to the IATF's protocol, which was referred to DOH Secretary Duque for critique. But DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire already issued a statement that the current IATF protocol implemented nationwide for OFWs and ROFs stays even before President Duterte could issue the order.