When asked why President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that flights to Mactan Cebu International Airport be redirected, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on government television Friday, May 28, that Cebu had run out of quarantine hotels.
“Wala namang defiance. Ang nangyari sa Cebu naubusan sila ng hotel at ngayon lang naaprubahan ng DOT (Department of Tourism) na magkaroon ng mixed-use sa kanilang mga hotels (There was no defiance of regulations. What happened was that Cebu had run out of hotels, and the DOT had only allowed hotels to be mixed-use only now),” Roque in a statement.
This answer seemed to be an attempt to dispel the notion that the diversion of flights was to punish Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, an administration ally, for not following national guidelines on quarantine restrictions for returning Filipinos.
However, in a phone interview with Rappler on Monday, May 31, Alfred Reyes, president of the Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu Incorporated (HRRAC), said that it is not true that hotels are fully booked, even without counting mixed-used hotels.
“When Secretary Roque said [capacity] was full, it could not be, since it was [at 30% capacity] during that time. Definitely no hotels were full by that time,” said Reyes.
He explained that right after Garcia came out with an executive order directing quarantine protocols for arriving Returning Overseas Filipino (ROFs), occupancy for most quarantine hotels went down to 30%. As of now, occupancy is at 10%.
How does Cebu’s quarantine procedures differ from Manila’s?
Instead of being required to undergo a 10-day mandatory hotel quarantine and only getting swabbed on the seventh day, ROFs arriving in Cebu get swabbed upon arrival, and only have to stay in a quarantine hotel for 2-3 days if the test returns negative.
“We have a total of 2,400 rooms per day [allotted as] quarantine rooms, and then only 300 passengers arrive and have their quarantine for 2-3 days,” Reyes shared.
“Kung 300 yung arrival ng passengers tapos 2-3 days lang sila magstay, eh talagang hindi mapupuno yan,” he added. (These hotels can never really be full if only 300 passengers arrive and stay for just 2-3 days.)
Sugbo News, the provincial government’s news outlet, reported that Garcia will be meeting with the president on Monday, May 31, to discuss the situation in Cebu and make a case for Cebu’s shorter and more relaxed quarantine protocols. – Rappler.com