All international flights bound for Cebu will continue to be diverted to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) until June 12, 2021, Malacañang announced Tuesday.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has issued a memorandum on the extension of the flight diversion from Cebu to Manila to prepare for the implementation of the national government’s testing and quarantine protocols for incoming passengers in the province.
The latest Palace memorandum indicated the government would enforce the unified arrival protocols instead of Cebu’s different procedures for returning Filipino travelers starting June 13.
“Nagpalabas ang Office of the Executive Secretary ng isang memorandum na nag-extend ng diversion ng international flights bound for Mactan-Cebu International Airport sa Ninoy Aquino International Airport hanggang June 12, 2021. Ito po ay para maayos ‘yung pag-iimplement ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) arrival protocols sa Cebu (The Office of the Executive Secretary has issued a memorandum to extend the diversion of international flights bound for Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Ninoy Aquino International Airport until June 12, 2021. This is to ensure the smooth implementation of the IATF arrival protocols),” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a televised press briefing Tuesday, June 8.
The rerouting of Cebu-bound flights has been extended “to ensure that upon resumption of international flights to Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the travel and testing protocols approved” by the IATF “will be fully and seamlessly implemented,” according to the Palace memo.
“Inaasahan natin that on the 13th of June, the IATF protocols on arriving OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and OFs (overseas Filipinos) will be implemented in Cebu. ‘Yan ay according to the memorandum issued by the Executive Secretary (On the 13th of June, we expect the IATF protocols on arriving OFWs and OFs will be implemented in Cebu. That’s according to the memorandum issued by the Executive Secretary),” Roque said.
The Palace earlier tapped the Manila airport as the alternative hub for Cebu-bound flights from May 29 to June 5, 2021 following the shortage of quarantine facilities in the province. The new memo on the extension was issued by Medialdea last June 5.
The latest extension of the flight diversion came after President Duterte held a meeting with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to discuss the province’s implementation of entry protocols for arriving passengers, that included test upon arrival, that were dissimilar from the IATF rules.
In the meeting, the President directed the Department of Health (DOH) to "critique" the different testing and quarantine protocols being implemented by the province of Cebu.
Roque said the President understood Cebu's concerns especially in relation to the “humanitarian aspect” involving returning Filipino workers who want to be with their families. The President however stressed the importance of complying with national policies in relation to the coronavirus response.
Cebu previously implemented a different set of protocols for returning Filipinos, including taking a swab test upon arrival and home quarantine, due to its limited isolation facilities.
The national government however imposes a different set of protocols for incoming international travelers. 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.
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.