Garcia rejects return of stricter protocols for ROFs, OFWs in Cebu

Published May 3, 2021, 5:39 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CAMOTES ISLAND, Cebu – The recommendation urging the province of Cebu to reimpose stricter protocols for returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) didn’t sit well with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia (Cong. Gwen Garcia Facebook page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Garcia called out Monday three doctors who reportedly recommended to the Department of Health (DOH) that Cebu must also enforce the protocol requiring ROFs and OFWs to stay in a hotel upon arrival for at least six days before undergoing swab tests.

She had eased the protocols for ROFs and OFWs by issuing Executive Order No. 9 last March in which ROFs and OFWs will be tested upon arrival and will be sent home right away if the test yields a negative result.

In a press briefing in the municipality of San Francisco on this island, Garcia said that three doctors who are technical advisory consultants of the DOH are the same doctors who, last February, recommended that Cebu residents must not be allowed to travel outside the province.

One of the doctors was also responsible for the renaming of the P.3 variant of the COVID-19 to Central Visayas variant.

Garcia said she was informed of the new recommendation of the three doctors last Saturday by DOH Region 7 (Central Visayas) Director Jaime Bernadas Jr.

With the new recommendation, Garcia reiterated her call to “leave Cebu alone.”

“Sometime in February I issued this call, don’t mess with us. We can take care of ourselves. I will never accept another lockdown,” Garcia said.

Garcia said she was surprised with the new recommendation when the COVID-19 cases in Cebu have been going down. As of May 1, Cebu had 661 active COVID-19 cases.

Garcia reminded any protocol that the DOH may impose must have the concurrence of the province. “I shall invoke and I am invoking Section 105 of Local Government Code. This is not to say that we will not listen to your recommendation but any imposition will have to be with concurrence of the province of Cebu,” said Garcia.

Garcia said she will be standing by the EO that she had issued to help unburden returning OFWs.

“We all agree that we should not add to the burden of an already suffering public. I pity these OFWs,” Garcia said.

“They don’t see the impact on this on ordinary people. How can I, as governor of Cebu, just stand aside and see our people suffering. The people are suffering, will I just allow it? I have a duty and responsibility to serve and protect the people.”

The Cebu governor stressed that there was no need to tighten the protocols on ROFs and OFWs since the COVID-19 cases in the province have been decreasing.

Asked what could be the reasons behind the new recommendation, Garcia said: “We have proven them wrong, their pride was pricked.”