'Uniform' protocols for all inbound int'l travellers to be enforced

The government will enforce a common set of health protocols for incoming international travelers in all ports of entry in the country.


According to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, President Duterte has made a "final decision" about the unified arrival protocols, including the quarantine and testing rules, to curb the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus disease.

Cebu earlier implemented its own policy on swab-upon-arrival for returning Filipinos and permitted those who test negative to proceed to their destination. This was different from the guidelines imposed by the national government. The government's pandemic task force had already reminded the province of Cebu to comply with the national protocols for travelers arriving from abroad.

"I think the President had a final decision and that is there will be one uniform policy for the entire Philippines because of the common danger posed by the Delta variant," Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, July 1, apparently rejecting the compromise offer made by the Cebu local government.

READ: Quarantine quagmire: IATF to study Cebu’s compromise offer on travel protocols

Roque made the remarks after Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia reportedly suggested a compromise wherein only the returning Cebuanos will tested upon arrival. The non-Cebuanos, she added, would be asked to follow the national government's rule on 10-day facility-based quarantine and swab test on the seventh day.

President Duterte has already stepped in and ruled that he cannot exempt Cebu from the health regulations implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF). Duterte has asked the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to deal with Garcia, saying there was a way to compel “obedience” after the province insisted on implementing its own arrival protocols.

“Si Gwen she went to see (me) the other week, and I assured her that we are fair and we would like to, I see the wisdom in her view but I said the overwhelming notion among us in government and the medical doctors simply does not agree with her,” Duterte said during a public address Monday, June 21.

“So I leave the fate of Governor Garcia sa DILG. There are mechanics that can be put into action to compel obedience not because we want to be mas marunong (wiser) but remember I said all our decisions are based on what medical people say,” he said.

READ: Duterte leaves fate of Cebu governor to DILG

Under the IATF rules, 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 will be completed under home quarantine. They will undergo the polymerase chain reaction test on the seventh day of their quarantine.

Travelers vaccinated in the country as well as those vaccinated abroad who stayed in "green" or low COVID risk countries and territories, on the other hand, will have a shorter quarantine period of seven days upon arrival. They will be tested on the fifth day during quarantine.