CEBU CITY – Malacañang has granted an audience with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia on Monday (May 31) to discuss the national government order to divert international flights bound for Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from May 29 until June 5, 2021.
Garcia will travel to Manila with Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, to discuss the current COVID-19 situation in the province and the order issued through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Thursday.
Medialdea said the order is in “pursuit of national interest in preventing further spread of Covid-19 in the country”.
She will also brief President Rodrigo Duterte on the basis of the province’s policy on returning Filipinos from overseas.
Garcia will be joined by Inter-Agency Task Force-Visayas Chief Implementer Gen. Mel Feliciano (ret.), and Department of Health-Central Visayas Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas and chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche.
“At the very least, Secretary Mike Dino understands well our situation here in Cebu,” she said during Friday’s emergency meeting at the capitol.
Dino assured the government will not take it against Cebu for issuing in early May Executive Order (EO) 17 that states repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning non-OFWs bound for Cebu province will no longer have to undergo mandatory quarantine unless they are confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.
The EO is incompatible with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 114 released a few days after Cebu’s that all inbound international travelers must quarantine for 14 days-10 days in a quarantine facility regardless of the COVID-19 test result taken on the seventh day and the remaining four days in the local government unit facility.
“I know for a fact that there are no plans of filing a case against the Governor. I sat in a meeting together with President Duterte, ES Salvador Medialdea, and Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go discussing this issue last night (Thursday), and I personally confirmed from them that (Local Government) Secretaries (Eduardo) Año, (Menardo) Guevarra (of the Department of Justice), and (Presidential Spokesperson Harry) Roque had no intentions of filing suit,” Dino said in a statement Friday.
Dino said Garcia will also discuss Cebu’s Emergency Operations Center, Project Balik Buhay, and the Visayas COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center, a few of the province’s measures against the virus.
“This is to find a win-win situation that would work for both the national government and the province of Cebu,” he said, adding that his office supports the local government units in the Visayas that have proven its best practices in lowering cases, reopening the economy, and revitalizing tourism.
“In hindsight, it is all about striking a balance between public health and economy as we learn to live with COVID-19,” Dino said.
Airport stakeholders and other government heads agreed during the meeting that the province’s swab-upon-arrival policy has worked well and relatively helped lower down the cases.
Upon arrival at MCIA, international passengers stay in quarantine hotels while waiting for the results but could proceed to their next destinations once they test negative.
The Palace order said local government units must enforce the IATF’s approved travel rules “regardless of any specific protocols that may be issued by LGUs”.
As of Friday, the province has 450 out of Central Visayas’ total 3,639 active COVID-19 cases. Philippine News Agency