Cebu bows to Duterte on IATF guidelines for arriving OFWs and ROFs

Published June 15, 2021, 9:57 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – While maintaining that no protocol was violated, the Department of Health-Central Visayas (DOH 7) said it will abide President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to enforce the guidelines set by the Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) for arriving Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

“With the order of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, we will obey as good citizens of this country,” DOH-7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche told reporters.

In heeding the President’s order, the DOH 7 will no longer implement the quarantine protocols stipulated in Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia’s Executive Order that was later adopted by a provincial ordinance.

Loreche, also the chief pathologist of DOH 7, insisted that the Cebu quarantine protocols for OFWs and ROFs arriving at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport were anchored on “scientific and empirical data.”

“The testing and quarantine protocols for the OFWs and ROFS in Cebu were crafted after a thorough and diligent review of on the ground data and community preparedness,” said Loreche.

The protocols imposed in Cebu “does not in any way contradict the IATF guidelines”, added Loreche.

“The test upon arrival and a repeat (test) on day 7 further strengthens the safety measures. The mandatory 10-day quarantine is being followed, but instead of the whole 10 days in the hotel facility, an OFW/ROF with a negative first swab result is allowed to continue the remaining days of quarantine either in their homes or in the LGU identified facility,” Loreche further explained.

Cebu-bound international flights were diverted to Manila for at least two weeks after the Cebu protocols deviated from the IATF guidelines which require arriving OFWs and ROFs to undergo 14-day isolation in quarantine hotels.

Loreche said that the Cebu protocols were proven effective that allowed the province to be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) for the past 10 months.

“With this innovative protocol plus the fact that it has been in MGCQ for almost a year already is a testament of a committed community response that has been in place since last year,” Loreche said.