Cebu governor firm: No swab tests for domestic tourists
CEBU CITY—Amid criticisms, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia stood pat on her decision to ease restrictions for domestic tourists who want to visit the province.
In an interview, Garcia said she always made sure that her orders would not violate the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“Because the IATF guidelines recognize the fact that local governments have local autonomy and, therefore, local governments may issue reasonable regulations,” she added during the reopening of the Bamboo Forest attraction in the northern Medellin town in Cebu on Thursday.
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III recently said Garcia might be punished if she proceeds with her plan to allow domestic tourists in Cebu even without a swab test.
Densing eventually backpedaled, saying he was “misquoted” by the media.
“I was just joking. I was asked a speculative question. I was asked what will happen if the governor won’t heed the DILG’s call (to require tourists to undergo swab test before entering the province). So I replied in jest saying, ‘Eh ’di i-force natin si governor” (Let’s bring the matter to the task force),” he said in a virtual press conference.
Densing said the DILG will propose to the IATF the easing of travel restrictions by also removing the medical certificate and the travel authority issued by the Philippine National Police as requirements for travelers coming from or going to areas with less strict quarantine status.
He clarified that nothing was violated when Garcia issued Executive Order No. 12 which no longer requires swab tests for persons coming from any point in the Philippines and arriving in Cebu for tourism-related activities.
Garcia thanked Densing for clarifying his statement on the issue.
“I would like to thank Undersecretary Densing for clarifying and I wish to thank them for going beyond what we already started in taking out the medical certificate and travel authority (too),” Garcia told reporters on Thursday.
Starting last Tuesday, Garcia has eliminated the requirement for a swab test for visitors entering the province, bucking the strict measure imposed by most tourism-oriented local governments in the country.
As of Wednesday, Cebu province has 9,965 COVID-19 cases, of which 1,426 were active with 8,080 recoveries, and 459 deaths.
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