Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Capitol mulls paying Cebu airfare of Cebuano ROFs in Metro Manila

Capitol mulls paying Cebu airfare of Cebuano ROFs in Metro Manila. (File photo)

THE Cebu Provincial Government plans to help returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) from Cebu who are affected by the diversion of international flights bound for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

It may assist with their airfare from Manila to Cebu.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said ROFs are already financially burdened as they have to shoulder the cost of their hotel stay during quarantine, unlike overseas Filipino workers whose hotel stay and domestic sweeper flights are shouldered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Based on its Resolution 114, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases requires all arriving travelers, except those fully vaccinated in the Philippines, to undergo facility-based quarantine for 10 days and undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for the virus on the seventh day.

Even with a negative result, the traveler is required to complete 10 days in a quarantine facility and spend an additional four days under home quarantine.

A stay in the quarantine rooms in hotels costs P2,000 per day.

“We had initially discussed this with Dr. (Christina) Giango (Provincial Health Office head) and Cebu City Acting Mayor Michael Rama if we could possibly extend assistance to the ROFs who need to shell out extra funds for their ticket coming from Manila to Cebu,” Garcia said in a Sugbo News report.

To recall, the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES), on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, first rerouted the MCIA-bound international flights to NAIA on May 29 to June 5.

On June 6, the international flights returned to the MCIA in the absence of a new advisory from Malacañang.

On June 7, however, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr. announced that a new OES memorandum, dated June 5, extended the diversion of the flights to NAIA to ensure that protocols set by the IATF will be followed at the MCIA upon resumption.

The extension of the flight diversion was set to end at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, June 12.

The Provincial Government plans to partner with airline companies and coordinate with the Bureau of Quarantine to identify the affected ROFs.

“We will be speaking with the airlines to enter into an arrangement with the Cebu Provincial Government, I think even the Cebu City Government. We will be answering that airfare,” Garcia said.

On June 7, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH 7 will no longer shoulder the cost of the first swab test in Cebu as the swab-upon-arrival policy is not that of the IATF.

The DOH central office said it will only shoulder the cost of the swab test on the seventh day.

Garcia said she already spoke to Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino about raising funds with the help of the private sector for the purchase of test kits.

“Secretary Mike Dino, when he was aware of this, called me and told me that the Cebuanos will come in and answer the need. He will be organizing the private sector in order to raise funds and I say I will also put in my own personal funds to show that we Cebuanos can do it. We can take care of our own,” Garcia said.

Meanwhile, Roque, who was in Cebu City on Saturday, said he had no idea whether international flights would return to the MCIA on Sunday, June 13.

“I do not know. I do not know what will happen after today,” he said.

Roque said he asked the Presidential Executive Secretary, but the latter also didn’t know.

“So let’s just say and I am officially stating that for now, the President has not made any decision on what to do with the existing protocols in Cebu,” he said.

He said the diversion of international flights was not a form of punishment for Cebu, whose local leaders insisted on implementing the swab-upon-arrival policy.

He said the idea of diverting the flights came from Governor Garcia “because what she mentioned was, if you do not approve of my protocols, of our protocols in Cebu, please divert the flights to Metro Manila because I have no jurisdiction as far as Manila is concerned.”

Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, who was also in Cebu City on Saturday, said the national government should listen to local government units (LGUs).

Marcos said even though the LGUs need the national government to assist, the LGUs know their areas better.

“I tend to always look to the local government because the LGUs know better than the national government,” Marcos said. (ANV, JJL)


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