CEBUANO overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) arriving at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) will continue to undergo “double swabbing” while transit passengers will be swabbed before proceeding to their final destination.
With double swabbing, Cebuano OFWs and ROFs are swabbed for Sars-CoV-2 upon arrival at the airport. If they test negative, they can go home, where they will be monitored and swabbed again on the seventh day.
This has been the directive of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia despite the insistence of health advisers of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases earlier this month.
It will remain even after the governor learned on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, that two national officials plan to file a case against her for allegedly defying the IATF’s whole-of-nation approach, which requires OFWs and ROFs to go on 14-day quarantine upon arrival and undergo a swab test only on the seventh day.
During a live conference at the Capitol on May 25, Garcia said Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Velasco Jr., president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines, informed her that Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año was privy to the plan to sue her for continuing to be “defiant” of IATF protocols.
“He (Año) said IATF is firm that Reso 114 should be strictly complied. They are worried about transmission of variants. He said Sec Harry (Roque) and (Justice Secretary) Meynard Guevarra are considering legal action against you,” Garcia quoted Velasco as saying.
According to the IATF’s Resolution 114 issued last May 6, arriving OFWs and ROFs must undergo quarantine for 14 days and undergo a swab test only on the seventh day.
Even if the test comes out negative, the OFW or ROF will remain in the quarantine facility to complete 10 days of isolation. He or she will then be allowed to go home to undergo another four days of isolation.
Based on Garcia’s executive order, OFWs and ROFs arriving at the MCIA will undergo an RT-PCR test. They will wait for the result in a quarantine hotel for two days. If the result comes out negative, OFWs and ROFs who are not from Cebu will be allowed to proceed to their final destination where they will follow the protocols of their respective local government units. Those from Cebu Province will be allowed to go home, where they will continue to be quarantined. They will undergo another swab test on the seventh day.
Garcia believes her executive order to be “innovative” and not in violation of IATF directives.
“Moingon sila didto sa Manila maka-infect gihapon na. Aw, di nalang diay ta motuo sa resulta kon negative (They in Manila are saying that people who test negative are still infectious)... Then why are we testing di man diay ta motuo (if we don’t believe in the result)... You asked us to trust the RT-PCR. You must also trust the RT-PCR nga kung negative na siya paulion na nimo (that if it comes out negative then you allow the individual to go home). That is good for the next 72 hours, isn’t it? Pa-uli-on largo sa ilang probinsya maka-infect diay na (They can infect if you allow them to go straight home)?” Garcia said.
“Defiant kuno ko (They say I am defiant). Dili man ko (I am not) defiant. I’m just trying to look for the best possible way to implement policies that will not further burden our people,” she said.
According to the governor, Roque and Guevarra will file a case of “insubordination” against her.
“But I cannot believe that of Secretary Harry Roque because he knows his law. I do not want to compromise him... I doubt if he is planning... He knows his law very well,” Garcia said. (ANV / PJB)