MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed Cebu province to follow protocols from the inter-agency task force leading the Philippines' COVID-19 response, Malacañang said on Monday.
Cebu previously tested passengers upon arrival in the airport. The IATF requires this screening on the 7th day of travelers' quarantine.
"The President has decided that the IATF protocols must be implemented by the Cebu province," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque, quoting the Office of the Executive Secretary.
Malacañang earlier diverted flights bound for Cebu to the capital.
This "was just a preparation for full implementation" of Duterte's decision on Cebu, Roque said in a press briefing.
Duterte in early June met with Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia to thresh out differences between the IATF and Cebu's protocols. He ordered the Department of Health to critique the province's quarantine rules.
"The President has also considered the DOH critique and has decided that Cebu province must abide with the IATF arrival protocols," said Roque.
He said he was "not aware" of what the interior department would do if Cebu continues to defy the IATF protocols. Roque had called Garcia his "BFF" (best friend forever).
Video courtesy of PTV
Garcia told Duterte her province tests inbound travelers for the coronavirus upon arrival, allow them to go on home quarantine monitored by the barangay, and undergo another COVID-19 screening on the seventh day, Roque earlier said.
A temporary shortage of quarantine beds forced the local government to implement this protocol. Local officials also believe this would be more effective in detecting COVID-19 cases, said Roque, quoting Garcia.
Cebu authorities, he said, also considered "humanitarian grounds" for Filipinos returning from abroad, who want to immediately go home to their families.
Garcia last year also made pronouncements that differed from the national government's directives.
She endorsed the practice of "tuob" or steam inhalation against COVID-19. The health department said this does not prevent or cure the respiratory disease.
In June last year, Duterte banned motorcycle backrides in Cebu, after Garcia issued an executive order allowing it.