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Cebu stands firm on shortened quarantine rules as it touts support from legislators, lawyers

THE CEBU provincial government is standing firm on its local quarantine rules for returning overseas workers and other residents, which do not strictly follow protocols set by the national task force on coronavirus management.

Members of the provincial board asserted the validity of the local rules, initially contained in an executive order from the governor and later passed as an ordinance.

Board Member John Ismael B. Borgonia, in an interview with local media, said the national task force should file a legal complaint if it believes that local officials must be held liable for overstepping their authority.

The national government has ordered all international flights bound for Cebu to be diverted to Manila. It took effect May 29 and has been extended to June 12.

The Cebu board is set to hold a special meeting Friday to assert the legality of the local policy.

Meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Cebu chapter issued a resolution on June 8 supporting the province’s stance.

The lawyers’ group said the local ordinance is “consistent with the constitutional mandate of providing adequate social services and an improved quality of life for all as well as the protection and promotion of the right to health and of health consciousness of the people in this time of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.”

“It is respectfully submitted that there is a need to reconcile and harmonize the policies, rules, regulations and procedures as regards arriving OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and ROFs (returning overseas Filipinos) in order to enable the bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively and to uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and of legal processes,” the resolution stated.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto and at least four other senators have also expressed support to Cebu’s policy.

“This is an innovative, safe and reasonable protocol especially for our OFWs. I’m looking forward that this best practice will be implemented throughout the country,” Mr. Sotto said in a statement.

Congressmen representing Cebu’s seven districts and the Ako Bisaya Party-list signed a manifesto on June 6 supporting Cebu’s policy and the exercise of local autonomy.

Cebu requires a swab upon arrival for free and immediate release from quarantine facility if the result is negative, and continue the isolation period at home. Another swab will be taken on the 7th day from arrival in the respective localities.

The national policy mandates a 14-day stay in a quarantine facility for all international arrivals. — MSJ

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