The governing board of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) will continue to facilitate in-bound flights for repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and outbound flights for stranded foreign nationals.
Lawyer Steve Dicdican, co-chair of the MCIAA board, said in a memorandum issued on Tuesday that the airport authority will abide by Republic Act 11469, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and regulations established by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease in regulating air travel, while the country is facing a health crisis due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Earlier, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia questioned the MCIAA for allowing the entry of 38 foreign nationals aboard domestic flights to land at the Mactan airport.
Garcia said she did not want Cebu to become a “receptacle” of foreign nationals, while stressing that MCIAA should coordinate with her office whenever there are passengers arriving in the airport so that proper health protocol could be observed.
“Why would we give the foreigners special treatment when we would not even allow Filipinos to enter Cebu?” she asked.
The 38 foreigners who came from the cities of Tagbilaran and Dumaguete arrived at the MCIA and allowed check-in at nearest hotel in Lapu-Lapu City to wait for their “sweeper flight” back to their respective countries.
Dicdican, who is also MCIAA general manager, said he was also surprised when the foreigners arrived last Saturday (March 28).
“There were stranded foreigners who arrived via sweeper flight yesterday (March 28) in Cebu from other parts of the Visayas so they could take onward flights to their home countries,” he said, adding that “no prior coordination with the airport nor with the Department of Tourism” was done.
Moreover, Dicdican said only the national government is authorized “to restrict and limit the operation of all sectors of transportation through land, sea or air, whether private or public”.
He said the entry of returning Filipinos, their foreign spouses and children should not be restricted while the national government allows them to go back to the Philippines.
“There shall likewise be no restriction on outbound and repatriated OFWs and stranded foreign nationals in all their necessary transportation requirements. Repatriated OFWs must be allowed to return to their respective domiciles within Region 7,” he said.
Dicdican said local government units cannot impose any requirements or fee in accepting distressed expatriates, OFWs and stranded foreigners.
He said the rule also applies to sea travel.
Dicdican warned that local officials who would disobey national government policies or directives in imposing quarantines can be imprisoned for two months or slapped with a fine of not less than PHP10,000 but not more than PHP1 million or both.
Apart from the penalties, the erring official may also face perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification from office. (PNA)