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Airlines must require RP-PCR results from passengers: Sara

MAYOR SARA Duterte wants all airlines to require all Davao City-bound passengers to submit a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours of the departure date. 

On July 14, she submitted a formal letter addressed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Sec. Arthur Tugade to direct all airlines to demand the procedure as part of the health screening, citing two “pressing issues.” 

  1. Rapidly deplete resources
  2. The increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the region

“We have tried our best using our own resources to make sure that we identify early those who may be COVID-19 positive by instituting health screening measures for all arriving passengers,” she said.

The city government is cognizant of its unique situation as the Francisco Bangoy International Airport is located in its borders, serving as the gateway of a number of residents from other local government units. 

“We intend to keep the airport open. However, may we reiterate our previous request for your assistance in mandating that all airlines require Davao-bound passengers to submit a negative RT-PCR test result within 48 hours of departure date prior to check-in at the airport of origin,” the mayor said.

Davao City has been receiving Overseas Filipino Workers, locally stranded individuals, and commercial flight passengers since the airport reopened on June 8. The number of COVID-19 cases in Davao has recently been increasing — and based on their history of travel, many of these cases are returning individuals from Manila.

Data showed that from July 5-13, 42 cases (37%) of the 113 cases traveled from Manila; 36 cases (32%) were exposed to COVID-19 patient; 18 cases (16%) were community unknown exposure; seven cases (six percent) had community exposure; four cases (four percent) had exposure to suspected a COVID case; two cases (two percent) traveled from Cebu; one case traveled from Clark; one case was an OFW; one case traveled abroad, and one case had exposure to a health care facility.

“We hope for your urgent action on this matter in this time of (the) pandemic,” she said.

Preventive measures

on repatriate OFWs

Meanwhile, the chief city executive has requested the National Inter-Agency Task Force and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to institute COVID-19 preventive measures in its repatriation procedures. 

“The City Government of Davao has been supportive of the national government’s efforts in repatriating Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs),” she said in two separate letters addressed to OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac and NIATF chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez on July 14.

“However, there is an increasing number of COVID-19 confirmed patients in Davao City,” she added.

The mayor suggested measures she was hoping to “take effect immediately.”

In her letter addressed to Cacdac, the mayor enumerated the following measures:

  1. OFWs and LSIs must present a negative RT-PCR result taken within 48 hours of departure before boarding by land, sea, or air.
  2. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) flights should be scheduled regularly so that receiving LGUs can properly plan for the pick-up of their residents. In this manner, no OFWs are left waiting for hours or even days for their pick up.
  3. In cases where the receiving LGUs are more than five hours away by land transport from the Davao International Airport (DIA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, or the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should provide transportation to immediately ferry the passengers to their LGUs. This will ensure acceptance of the returning residents as well as prevent being stranded at the DIA.

The three measures were also included in her letter to Galvez. But she also noted the following:

  1. Regular commercial flight passengers to the Davao International Airport must present upon check-in at the airport of origin a negative RT-PCR taken within 24 hours from departure time.
  2. Discontinue carrying Davao Region LSIs in sweeper flights to other airports other than the Davao International Airport.
  3. Philippine Air Force planes to Davao City must carry personnel only and must temporarily stop from accommodating civilians unless it is an emergency.
  4. All individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not be allowed to board any flight or vessel.

“The City Government hopes that these measures may slow down the transmission of COVID 19 not only in the city but the rest of Mindanao without giving prejudice to the need for the OFWs or LSIs to return home,” she said in the letter. 

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