In a memorandum issued on Thursday, May 27, Malacañang ordered all international flights bound for the Mactan Cebu International Airport diverted to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Metro Manila from May 29 to June 5.
The memo ordered government agencies to “enforce the current testing and quarantine protocols approved and issued by the IATF applicable to inbound international travelers in all ports of entry, regardless of any specific protocols that may be issued by local government units (LGUs) to the contrary.”
While the memo signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea did not specify the reason for the rerouting, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia had been insistent that the Cebu airport follow its own protocols, which differ from the IATF’s stricter quarantine and testing requirements for passengers arriving in Manila.
Currently, passengers arriving in Manila are required to undergo a minimum 10-day mandatory hotel quarantine and get swabbed on the 7th day. Passengers who test negative can continue their quarantine at home from the 10th to the 14th day.
Garcia’s executive order issued on May 10 required passengers get swabbed upon arrival, and only have to stay in a quarantine hotel for 2-3 days. The passenger could continue quarantine at home upon receiving a negative result.
Responding to criticism that her memo contradicted international arrival policy by the national government’s COVID-19 task force, Garcia previously said that it “innovates” but does not violate government protocols.
The Cebu governor amended the order on May 13 and added a second swab on the 7th day to be taken during the returning resident’s home quarantine.
The reason for the IATF’s quarantine period is the incubation time for the coronavirus, which health experts peg at 14 days.
Rappler reached out to Garcia for a response to the memo but has not yet returned our requests. – with reports from Pia Ranada, Lorraine Ecarma and John Sitchon/Rappler.com