GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia has been assured by Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Dino that the national government will not sue her for insubordination for modifying the Inter-Agency Task Force’s testing protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
Garcia and Dino excused themselves from a PDP-Laban council meeting on Monday, May 31, 2021, to travel to Manila and meet President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss the matter.
Dino said he talked to the President, Sen. Christopher Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and they told him no one would be filing a case against the Cebu governor.
He said the thought never even crossed the President’s mind.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque released a statement May 31, 2021, denying he planned to take legal action against Garcia over certain decisions made in relation to her Covid-19 response.
“This is not within my scope of duties and responsibilities as Presidential Spokesperson and Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Spokesperson,” Roque said. He said he has spoken to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, who “clarified that there could be a possible discussion as regards this matter with the good Governor and that there is no filing of case is in the offing.”
Dino said that some directives coming from Manila may not be practical to implement in Cebu “not because ganahan to mosaway nila, no! It’s because we know what we are capable of.”
Dino assured Garcia that he and all the local chief executives in Cebu Province support her quarantine protocols for arriving OFWs and ROFs.
Garcia, for her part, said they are aware that the President has a heart for the marginalized, particularly the OFWs, who have helped the country’s economy through their remittances.
She said it’s not enough to just look at numbers and that each number corresponds to a person and that person has a life.
Garcia recounted the story of an OFW from Nueva Ecija who died while in quarantine in Lapu-Lapu City. The OFW was waiting to be released after 10 days so she could proceed home.
The governor said the government should understand the plight of OFWs, who have families and their own problems. That’s why Garcia said her policies are designed not to add to their suffering.
Meanwhile, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan said the temporary diversion of international flights to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila, which took effect on Saturday, May 29, and will last until June 5, will certainly have an impact on Cebu’s economy.
That’s why he hopes the President will listen to Garcia’s explanation on her protocols for OFWs and ROFs arriving in Cebu, adding that the Covid-19 situation in Cebu is different from the situation in the National Capital Region.
So far, Malacañang hasn’t called his attention for complying with Garcia’s directive regarding the matter, he said.
“The important thing is to find a balance between the economy and the Covid-19 situation. We just want the diversion of international flights to stop, especially since the economy of Lapu-Lapu City, like that of Cebu Province, relies heavily on tourism,” Chan said. (KFD / GCM / PJB)