Cebuano Lawyers Valentino Bacalso Jr. and Clarence Paul Oaminal filed the petition for declaratory relief against the national IATF’s 10-day quarantine rule before the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City. (Contributed)

Cebuano lawyers filed Monday a petition in court to declare “inapplicable” and “ineffective” the National Inter-Agency Task Force policy (NIATF) for arriving Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) in Cebu.

 Acting as private citizens, lawyers Valentino Bacalso Jr. and Clarence Paul Oaminal filed the petition for declaratory relief before the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City.

 Bacalso said they wanted IATF Resolution No. 114, released on May 6, 2021, to be declared by the court as ineffective in the province of Cebu.

 A prayer for a 20-day temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction was also sought while the complaint is pending, Bacalso said.

 The petition urged the court to order the NIATF to cease and desist in enforcing swabbing and quarantine protocols on arriving OFWs and ROFs in Cebu.

 The NIATF has mandated Cebu to enforce isolation of returning OFWs and ROFs upon arrival at the airport and swab testing on the seventh day, based on “scientific findings” on the Covid-19 load necessary for the effective detection of the pathogen.

 “We are not arguing on the scientific claim. But when to count the first day of the quarantine period,” Bacalso said in Cebuano. “We are against this, and we are for the protocol of the province of Cebu that swab them (OFWs and ROFs) upon arrival and not on the seventh day and for them to stay quarantined at their homes.”

 They argued that Cebu Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-04 was much more “sensible” than the 10-day quarantine rule of the NIATF. The said ordinance allows swabbing of travelers upon arrival at the Mactan airport, and if they test negative, they will be allowed to go under home quarantine and be swabbed again on the seventh day.

 Both lawyers insisted on the legality of the ordinance, citing Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code.

 Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive power prevailed over local ordinances.

 Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, in an interview on ANC’s Headstart, explained that health experts recommended the 10-day quarantine rule.

 “That 10-day rule worked with the Delta variant. The game has changed right now across the world because of that Delta variant first detected in India,” Nograles explained.

 He said defending the country against the Delta variant was a “new fight” that everyone should worry about. “Why? Because if the Alpha variant is 60% transmissible, the Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the alpha variant,” he said.

 The cabinet official said the Delta variant, aside from being more transmissible, was “dangerous” since it requires longer hospitalization and hits even the younger population. Ryan Sorote