Cebu will now follow IATF rules on returning Filipinos

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Cebu (CNN Philippines, June 22) - Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia on Tuesday announced the provincial government will now follow the protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease on returning Filipinos.

Garcia said there will be no more home quarantine for returning residents after a negative swab test result upon arrival at the airport. Instead, they will follow the IATF protocol which requires a 10-day quarantine in accredited hotels.

However, the provincial government will stick to its Swab-Upon-Arrival policy and the conduct of another swab test on the seventh day of quarantine.

Garcia said she decided to scrap the home quarantine protocol previously implemented in the province as the national government will now shoulder the hotel quarantine of returning Filipinos.

The Cebu governor added that she has also set aside her Executive Order No. 23, which warns of criminal and administrative charges against government agencies and hotels that will defy the local ordinance on returning residents.

Garcia said she is looking forward to meet with the IATF and Health Secretary Francisco Duque in Cebu on June 28, to discuss the protocols further and to arrive at a win-win solution.

Early Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he thinks the governor was not being disobedient when it comes to following national policies. He added that President Rodrigo Duterte understands the innovation implemented by Garcia amid inadequate number of quarantine facilities for returning Filipinos in the province.

“The President appreciates the concern of Governor Garcia from a humanitarian perspective on the plight of our OFWs. But like the face shields, game-changer po talaga itong Delta variant; kinakailangan pong maiwasan ang pagpasok ng Delta variant kaya nga po ipinatutupad iyong mandatory 10-day facility quarantine,” Roque noted, referring to the more contagious variant first discovered in India.

[Translation: The Delta variant is really a game-changer. We need to prevent the entry of the Delta variant which is why we need to implement the mandatory 10-day facility quarantine.]

During his weekly address, Duterte said he understands the frustrations of returning Filipinos who are desperate to go home. However, health protocols need to be followed first to prevent further transmission of the coronavirus, especially with the presence of more dangerous variants.