Cebu solons: LGUs, not IATF, should handle COVID response

Published June 7, 2021, 3:27 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – Local government units (LGUs) should be the ones managing their COVID-19 response instead of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

This was the sentiment expressed by eight Cebuano congressmen through a manifesto.

“As we inch back towards normalcy, it is high time for local government units who handled the pandemic well to return to the driver’s seat and be given full confidence to manage the COVID-19 situation within their respective jurisdictions free of any intrusion by the IATF,” they said in a manifesto that was released late Sunday night.

The manifesto was signed by Cebu First District Rep. Eduardo Gullas, 2nd District Rep. Wilfredo Caminero, 3rd District Rep. Pablo John Garcia, 4th District Rep. Janice Salimbangon, 5th District Rep. Duke Frasco, 6th District Rep. Emarie Ouano-Dizon, and 7th District Rep. Peter John Calderon.

Ako Bisaya party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon, who is also Cebuano, was also one of the signatories.

Likewise, the solons are “strongly supporting” the Executive Order (EO) No. 17 issued by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and the Cebu Provincial Board Ordinance “swab-upon-arrival-policy” in Cebu.

“As representatives of the people of our districts, we are cognizant of our constituent OFWs’ and ROFs’ urgent need to immediately return home to their families to minimize the financial and emotional burden long periods of quarantine entails,” they added.

Garcia’s EO No. 17 which was later backed by a provincial ordinance allows arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) to have a shorter quarantine.

“A significant proportion of our constituent OFWs and ROFs come back to Cebu due to deaths in the family and other family emergencies where it is critical for them to immediately return home. This, notwithstanding the limitation of time their work abroad permits them to stay in Cebu,” the Cebuano solons said.

The lady governor’s EO was in contrast to the IATF policy that requires a mandatory 14-day quarantine for OFWs and ROFs.

Malacanang had ordered the diversion of all incoming international flights bound for Mactan-Cebu International Airport to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

“Worse, such actuations by the IATF are an encroachment upon the local autonomy enjoyed by the Province of Cebu as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and under Republic Act No. 7160,” the congressmen added.

They noted that the provincial government has managed its COVID-19 response well as it has been under Modified General Community Quarantine classification status for more the past 10 months.

“As representatives of the people, we can no longer sit idle while our constituent OFWs and ROFs are further burdened by unsound and impractical policies that greatly ignore their own personal and financial circumstances,” the congressmen said.

“To the IATF, we urge you to respect the rule of law, respect the Philippine Constitution, and respect the local autonomy of the Province of Cebu,” they added.