MACTAN-CEBU International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Steve Dicdican said his office was just following the National Government’s directives in repatriating foreign passengers back to their home countries.
Dicdican drew criticism from Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia last Sunday, March 29, for accepting 38 foreign nationals at the international airport in Lapu-Lapu City despite the existence of the latter’s Executive Order 5-N, a portion of which prohibits “entry of all persons arriving on international flights in the Province of Cebu” but the “outbound passengers are still allowed to leave” the province.
The foreigners reportedly stayed in two hotels in Cebu.
Dicdican told SunStar Cebu on Monday, March 30, 2020, that the 38 foreign passengers arrived at Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in chartered flights from Metro Manila, Siquijor, Butuan and Caticlan. The embassies or consulates arranged the flights for the foreigners, who were considered outbound and they just accessed MCIA to go out of the Philippines.
“They can access national government facilities like airports, ferries, bus terminals, etc. to enable them to get out. They can take connecting transport to get to their eventual point of exit,” Dicdican said.
Garcia called out Dicdican in a press conference last Sunday, saying the MCIAA did not inform the provincial inter-agency task force against the coronavirus disease about the arrival of the foreigners.
Before the foreigners were transported to MCIA, the embassies and the consulates had sought the approval from the Civil Aeronautics Board and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines for the flights.
“We were then informed to help in the arrangements for the aircraft and its passengers,” Dicdican said.
Dicdican said the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City, Metro Manila and MCIA are the only airports that can cater to foreigners who want to get out of the Philippines as they often board big aircrafts.
“NAIA is doing the bulk of the sweeper operations. We are also doing our part, but in a smaller scale,” he said.
He said the the basis of MCIAA’s actions are the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 15 and the Bayanihan Act, which gives emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Under the IATF Resolution 15, the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), permanent residents of foreign jurisdictions and stranded foreign nationals leaving for abroad through any of the ports in Luzon shall be allowed to leave the Philippines without any impediment. Provided, that this provision shall not be interpreted to allow outbound travel to jurisdictions where travel restrictions are in place. The departing passengers may only be accompanied by not more than one person when traveling to any international port.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration was directed by the IATF to provide transportation services to OFWS intending to leave for abroad.
Stranded passengers, whether Filipino or foreign nationals, are also allowed to book hotels and seek temporary accommodations.
Bayanihan Act, on the other hand, states there should be a regulation and limit the operation of all sectors of transportation through land, sea or air, whether private or public.
In addition to acts or omissions already penalized by existing laws, one of the offenses punishable with imprisonment of two months or a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P1 million or both, such imprisonment and fine, at the discretion of the court is this: LGU officials disobeying national government policies or directives in imposing quarantines. (JOB)