By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is set to review the proposed resumption of domestic flights after some local government units have refused to allow such travel operations due to the potential spread of the coronavirus disease.
Passengers wearing personal protective suits queue up at the check-in area at the international airport in Manila on May 28, 2020, for their commercial flight to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
The issue on aviation travel in areas under community quarantine must be ironed out given the concerns raised by the LGUs, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
"I talked to CAB (Civil Aeronautics Board) and CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines), at apparently ang nagiging problema (the problem) are the local government units are refusing to admit passengers from the domestic flights," Roque said during a press briefing aired on state television.
"So paplantsahin po iyan (so we have to iron out it)," he added.
Chief Implementer of the government's coronavirus response Carlito Galvez Jr. confirmed that some local government units have expressed fear about possible coronavirus infection if travel restrictions are lifted.
He noted that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has already submitted a proposal on the resumption of local flights. The matter will be further discussed by concerned government officials and the local executives.
"Iyong sa local flights, may sinabmit na po iyong ating DOTr. Tinitingan po namin kasi iku-consult po natin ang mga LGUs kasi ang nakita natin din, takot din talaga iyong mga LGUs na magkaroon ng open travel dahil kasi iyon nga, sa importation(On local flights, the DOTR has submitted it. We are looking at it because we will still consult the local government units because the LGUs are really afraid of open travel because of the importation of cases),” he said in the same press briefing.
"Sa ngayon po pag-aaralan po naming mabuti, iko-consult po namin si Secretary Lorenzana at saka si Secretary Tugade at saka si SILG, para pag-aralan po kung ano pong lugar ang puwede nating buksan (At present, we are studying it carefully. We will consult (Defense Secretary) General (Delfin) Lorenzana, (Transportation) Secretary (Arthur) Tugade and SILG (Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año) to study which areas can be reopened)," he said.
Galvez also disclosed that some airports may be reopened once their testing facilities are installed.
He said they may open Clark airport this week after being equipped with testing capability. Also being eyed is the resumption of flights in Cebu, Davao and General Santos cities.
For now, Galvez said the government has allowed flight operations for inbound passengers from overseas Filipino workers and seafarers. He said they previously limited the entry quota of OFWs between 400 and 600 but has increased the number between 1,000 and 1,500 due to the available quarantine centers.
The government expects 42,000 OFWs to arrive in the country this month, he said.
The government has further relaxed the restrictions after a two-month coronavirus lockdown in a bid to reboot the economy.
Metro Manila and several areas have been placed under general community quarantine while the rest of the country will be on modified GCQ from June 1 to 15. Road, rail, maritime, and aviation transportation will be allowed to resume operations at reduced capacity and subject to minimum health standards.
Public transportation was suspended since the enhanced community quarantine was first put in place across Luzon last March. Exemptions were made for the delivery of essential goods and services.