Gwen to implement ‘Cebu first policy’ among returning OFWs

Published December 22, 2021, 9:07 AM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – To avoid congestion in quarantine hotels, only Cebuano Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) will be accepted at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) from December 23 to January 3 next year.

The measure, dubbed as “Cebu first policy,” was contained in Executive Order No. 49 that Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia on Monday, Dec. 20.

Garcia explained that at least 600 international passengers arrive daily at MCIA.

Of the arriving passengers, 80% are non-Cebuanos who need to be quarantined for five days based on the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

Problem is, according to Garcia, hotel accomodation has increased after typhoon Odette struck as some families opted to check into hotels due after power and water supply in households were cut off.

Some hotels also sustained significant damage that forced them to temporarily cease operations.

“If the hotel can no longer keep up with the hygiene and sanitation requirements because of limitation of resources an manpower and limitation of electricity, fuel, then we might have outbreak in our hands and that will only compound to the severity of our situation right now” Garcia said.

Under the policy, the governor emphasized that only Cebuanos ROFs and OFWs with a place to stay in in Cebu will be accepted at MCIA during the abovementioned period.

Garcia said the province will re-implement the health protocols for OFWs and ROFs in which swab-upon-arrival will be conducted.

If tested negative, arriving ROFs and OFWs will be allowed to leave the quarantine hotel and continue the 10-day quarantine at home.

On the fifth day of the quarantine, another swab test will be conducted by health personnel of the concerned local government unit.

“This is a crisis situation. And as I said, Cebuanos also need these hotel rooms, so I am declaring a policy of Cebu first. We must first take care of our own,” said Garcia.

The policy was created after the governor met with regional officials of the Department of Health, Bureau of Quarantine and the Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association in Cebu.

While the EO is in effect, the governor non-Cebuanos OFWs and ROFs to land at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport or at the Clark Airport.

In crafting the policy, Garcia cited Section 16 of the Local Government Code which states that “every local unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefore, as well as powers necessary, appropriate or incidental for its efficient and effective governance and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare.”

The governor likewise cited Section 465 of the same code that empowers the Provincial Governor to carry out such emergency measures as may be necessary during and in the aftermath of a man-made and natural disaster or calamity.

The governor said she is ready to face any backlash that may come up as a result of the policy.

“I will stand for this. There may be others who may not agree. But lucky for them, they were not tasked to look after the welfare of the entire Cebu,” Garcia said.