Saturday, December 04, 2021

Espinoza: The conflict. Was it politicized?

Free Zone

THE conflict that I've discussed in my previous columns and the possible consequences of those who will implement, or not comply with the health protocols that the Cebu Provincial Government wants to enforce for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) vis-à-vis the IATF-DOH Resolution 114 at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is happening now.

The IATF-DOH, under the Office of the President, wants a uniform health protocols all over the country for OFWs and ROFs arriving in all airports. In the IATF-DOH protocols, the OFWs and ROFs are quarantined in accredited hotels and will be swab-tested on the seventh day and will be sent home on the 10th day if the test result is negative of Covid-19.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia's EO-17, now Provincial Ordinance 2021-04, the OFWs and ROFs are swab-tested upon their arrival at the MCIA and held for three days in a hotel and can go home if the test result is negative of Covid-19. They shall be swab-tested on the seventh day and their respective local government unit (LGU) will monitor them.

Governor Garcia, in her press conference on Monday, warned those (referring perhaps to MCIA officials and employees and hotel operators) who would not obey the Provincial Ordinance of possible administrative and criminal charges. "I called all of them to remind them that this is still a government of laws and not of men and as such, in Cebu, there is an existing ordinance which clearly spells out the swab on arrival protocol and if found negative within two or three days, may go home to continue their quarantine at home," she said.

Capitol should sue those responsible people who would follow the IATF-DOH Resolution 114 instead of Provincial Ordinance 2021-04 at the MCIA to set the records straight.

Lawyers Benjamin Cabrido Jr., Paul Clarence Oaminal and Valentino Bacalso filed a petition for the court to declare IATF Resolution 114 not applicable in the Province of Cebu. There are skepticisms if the petition would reach first base in the courts after President Duterte on Monday night warned the judiciary that he would not obey any court order that would stop the implementation of the IATF arrival protocols in Cebu. "At this time of a national emergency, I would just like to inform the courts that I will not follow them. I will insist on what is necessary to protect the people," Duterte said.

Governor Garcia once warned the IATF not to mess with Cebu after talks circulated that it would recommend to put Cebu under a more restrained quarantine. The Province of Cebu, the cities and towns have been under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) for some time now after the Covid-19 infection rate tremendously went down compared to the other provinces and metro cities.

When Governor Garcia insisted weeks ago on her arrival protocols at the airport, Malacañang through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, on two occasions, diverted the Cebu bound international flights to NAIA. With the conflict on arrival protocols at the MCIA expect politics to play since Governor Garcia is not backing down on her policy.

It's understandable that Governor Garcia avoided verbal confrontations with the alter egos of President Duterte when Executive Secretary Medialdea ordered the diversion to Manila of the Cebu bound international flights. But in the days to come if Governor Garcia would not backout on her airport health protocols, would she be out of grace in Malacañang? Remember, the May 9, 2022 elections are not that far. Of course, the governor knows better on what she's doing.


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