International flights return to MCIA; passengers swabbed on arrival

·3 min read

THE Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) has resumed servicing inbound international flights on Sunday, June 13, 2021, as the effectivity of the memorandum extending the diversion of MCIA-bound flights to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City ended at 11:59 p.m. on June 12.

John Paul Valle, officer-in-charge of the MCIA Authority’s Airport Operations Department, said the memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on June 5 that extended the diversion of international flights bound for the MCIA to the NAIA from June 5 to June 12 was self terminating.

“We will just wait (for) advice if there are still additional instructions from the Office of the President,” he said.

Malacañang earlier said that the extension of the diversion was to ensure that proper arrival and testing protocols would be implemented once the airport resumed accepting inbound international flights.

Valle confirmed that two international flights were scheduled to arrive at the MCIA on Sunday: one from Singapore (2 p.m.) and the other from Seoul, South Korea (10:30 p.m.)

Dr. Jaime Bernadas, Department of Health (DOH) 7 director, in a text message to SunStar Cebu on Sunday, said Cebu will still have to follow the amended ordinance imposed by the Provincial Government.

“We still have to follow the ordinance of Cebu as it is still effective. Another swab is also done on the seventh (day) in compliance with IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) guidelines,” he told SunStar Cebu.

The Provincial Board approved on second and third reading the amended Provincial Ordinance 2021-04 on Saturday.

Cebu’s amended ordinance still reflects the requirements stated in the memorandum that Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued on May 20 and released on June 5.

The amendments, however, still differ from that of IATF’s arrival protocol except that the Province now requires a second swab test on the seventh day of the quarantine period.

The amended ordinance still requires returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to undergo a swab test upon arrival at the MCIA. The test is free and will be conducted by the DOH 7.

Bernadas said the Province, local government units (LGUs) and the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas are finding ways of funding the first test, or swab upon arrival.

Meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City chapter issued a resolution urging the IATF to coordinate closely with all LGUs for a “smooth” and “harmonious” delivery of services and imposition of health protocols in Cebu and other areas.

The group also asked for the resumption of international flights to the MCIA for the convenience of ROFs and OFWs.

In its Resolution 5 series of 2021, the IBP Cebu City chapter emphasized the need to reconcile Governor Garcia’s Executive Order 17 s. of 2021 and Provincial Ordinance 2021-04, on one hand, and IATF Resolutions 114 and 116, on the other, to help lessen the burden of affected ROFs and OFWs.

A portion of the resolution stated that diverting the flights bound for the MCIA to the NAIA “has resulted to more financial burdens to these sectors and may possibly lead to personal problems that affect the mental, psychological, or physical state of the persons affected from these sectors.”

The group said there is a need for consultation and coordination with the LGUs in the formulation and implementation of measures in controlling, containing, preventing and managing the spread of the Covid-19, as LGUs are the ones closer to the ground.

Along with this need for consultation and coordination, it said the IATF and other national agencies should take into consideration existing laws, ordinances and orders implemented by the LGUs in the issuance of resolutions.

The group said Sec. 5 of the Local Government Code provides that the national government, in consultation with the LGU concerned, may temporarily assume different supervision and control over health operations in times of widespread public health emergencies, but such will not exceed a cumulative period of six months, though it can be extended only with the concurrence of the LGU concerned. (WBS)

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