Cebu

Cebu puts to law own OFW guidelines for COVID-19 testing despite stricter national policy

Lorraine Ecarma
Cebu puts to law own OFW guidelines for COVID-19 testing despite stricter national policy

JOHN ISMAEL BORGONIA.

Photo of board member John Ismael Borgonia in the May 10 session from Cebu Province PIO.

Under the ordinance, returning overseas Filipino workers and non-OFWs from abroad will only have to stay in accredited hotels until the release of negative COVID-19 test results

The Province of Cebu has put into law its own relaxed protocols for travelers entering Cebu island through an ordinance passed on Monday, May 10.

The ordinance strengthens Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s Executive Order No. 17, which directs testing of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and returning Filipinos upon arriving to the island from abroad.

“Upon arrival in Cebu, the DOH will administer a COVID-19 RT-PCR Test upon the OFW or returning non-OFW free of charge. Thereafter, and pending the release of the COVID RT-PCR Test Results, he or she will be transferred in his or her pre-booked hotel,” the document reads.

Under the ordinance, returning OFWs and non-OFWs from abroad will only have to stay in accredited hotels until the release of negative test results. They will then be allowed to return to their home local government units (LGU), subject to existing health protocols in their particular LGUs.

Authored by board member John Ismael Borgonia, the ordinance was passed on first, second, and third reading in the same session without any objections. Garcia certified the reading of the ordinance as urgent.

A stricter national policy

On May 7, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced during a press briefing that all persons coming into the country must complete 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

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Ten of those days will be spent in hotels accredited as quarantine facilities, while the remaining four will be spent in home isolation.

Under the national policy, swabbing for the RTC-PCR test will only be done on the seventh day of quarantine. Even upon testing negative, travelers will still be made to wait through the remaining three days in the quarantine facility.

Days before this announcement, on May 3, Garcia announced that Cebu province was going to abide by its custom protocols.

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The Cebu governor invoked Section 105 of the Local Government Code which requires the consultation of the concerned LGU before the Secretary of Health could assume direct supervision and control of health operations in the LGU.

This provincial ordinance for OFWs and returning Filipinos will only apply to travelers returning to cities and municipalities in Cebu island.

Travelers transiting via Cebu to other regions of the country, however, will be subject to the national guidelines.

Rappler has reached out to Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya for his response on the matter, but he has yet to reply as of posting time. – Rappler.com