Duterte orders Cebu: Follow IATF protocols for arriving int'l travelers

President Duterte has directed Cebu province to abide by the national government's testing and quarantine protocols for arriving passengers in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

The President has issued the directive after the province reportedly insisted on enforcing its own swab test-upon-arrival policy for returning Flipinos at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, that was different from the national government's guidelines.

"From the Office of the Executive Secretary, the President has decided that the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) protocols must be implemented by the Cebu province," Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday, June 14.

The government earlier ordered the extension of the diversion of all international flights for Cebu to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) until June 12. The flight diversion was first imposed from May 29 to June 5 due to the shortage of quarantine hotels in Cebu. The decision to further tap NAIA as alternative hub for Cebu-bound flights was meant to prepare for the implementation of the national government’s testing and quarantine protocols for incoming passengers in the province.

Roque, in his briefing Monday, explained that the "last extension was just a preparation for full implementation" of the IATF protocols for incoming passengers.

"The President has also considered that the DOH (Department of Health) critique and has decided that Cebu province must abide by IATF arrival protocols," he added.

Asked about the consequence if Cebu insisted on implementing its own testing protocols, Roque said it would be up to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to act on the matter.

Cebu had required incoming passengers to undergo testing upon arrival at the airport and allowed those who tested negative to proceed to their destination.

Under IATF rules, all incoming passengers must undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. The first 10 days shall be observed in an accredited quarantine facility, with the remainder to be completed under home quarantine. They will undergo the polymerase chain reaction test on the seventh day of their quarantine.

Passengers who have been vaccinated in the country, on the other hand, will have a shorter quarantine period of seven days upon arrival. They will only be tested if they show COVID symptoms during quarantine.