Cebu provincial board asks IATF funds to shoulder quarantine cost of ROFs

The Cebu provincial government passed a board resolution on Monday, July 5, requesting the national task force on COVID-19 (IATF) to shoulder the quarantine expenses of returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) as promised by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Such measure to pay for the hotel quarantine facility of Returning Overseas Filipinos will greatly help them to save on expenses, thereby promoting and protecting the collective interests of all Filipinos in these challenging times,” the resolution read.

Cebu 3rd District board member John Ismael “Jimbo” Borginia, the author of the resolution, cited Duterte’s pronouncement during a June 21 address to the nation. The President promised to extend government subsidy on the quarantine expenses of all returning Filipinos.

At present, only the hotel quarantine expenses of Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) are covered by the government through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

“Unlike OFWs, whose quarantine accommodation expenses are shouldered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the IATF-MEID’s 10-day hotel based quarantine policy causes distress and undue financial burden on the Returning Overseas Filipinos, since they have to pay for their 10-day hotel quarantine fees, of which the money could have been used for other necessary purposes,” the resolution said.

Duterte made the promise as a concession to Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who said she was concerned over the mounting expenses returning Filipinos incurred in the 10-day hotel quarantine requirement of the national IATF.

Duterte promised to allocate unused funds under the Bayanihan Recover as One Act to "to pay for the expenses for sequestration of every returning Filipino."

Two weeks after Duterte’s pronouncement there was still no follow-through on his promise – ROFs are still paying for their own hotel fees, Borgonia confirmed to Cebu media on Monday.

The national government and Cebu Province were locked in a standoff for more than a month on quarantine protocols for returning Filipinos. Cebu province pushed for 2-3 days of hotel quarantine, and 11-12 days in home isolation or in barangay facilities.

The national government’s protocol mandated a 10-day quarantine and swabbing on the seventh day from arrival.

Cebu province acceded to the national government, accepting Duterte's offer to shoulder the quarantine expenses of ROFs. –