“No Letter of Acceptance from the Provincial Government of Cebu nor from the Local Government Unit of destination shall be required for entry into a municipality or component city of the Province. Welcome to the Province of Cebu.”
This is the notice that is posted on five strategic points in the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) after Governor Gwendolyn Garcia clarified that she did not require additional documents for those travelling to the Province.
The clarification stemmed from a report that passengers bound for the Province of Cebu are again asked to present a Letter of Acceptance from the governor and the mayor of their respective local government units (LGU).
This order allegedly came from the governor to which she vehemently denied.
“I never gave such an order. How could they use my name?” Garcia stressed.
A booth and an alleyway was set up in the airport specifically for Province-bound passengers where their travel documents will be checked, including the alleged Letter of Acceptance.
On August 24, 2020, MCIA and GMR Megawide received a letter that mentioned of the “required Letter of Coordination from the Barangay of Residence in the City of Cebu for Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs) traveling to the City of Cebu from Metro Manila.”
The letter was signed by Joel C. Garganera, deputy chief implementor of the IATF-EID Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Cebu City.
Aside from the airport authorities, it was also sent to the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, and all other concerned agencies.
According to Garcia, GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation Chief Executive Advisor Andrew Harrison had the impression that the EOC personnel manning the booth and alleyway since January were employees of the Cebu Provincial Government.
“Sa una man gud pag-abot sa atong mga Sugbuanon nga pasidung sa Probinsya, diretso ra. Seamless ang atong travel. Wala’y daghan nga mga kuskos-balungos. Karon nakugang na lang ang atong mga kaigsuonan nga duna na may booth, duna na may sundon nga passageway ug didto sukit-sukiton,” the governor explained.
“Worse, kay ako kuno tong order nga kinahanglan duna kuno’y Letter of Acceptance nga gikan sa gobernador, ug kinahanglan maka-produce og Letter of Acceptance gikan sa LGU. Ang mga nag-man adto nga booth gigamit ang akong ngan,” Garcia narrated in her press conference Tuesday, February 2.
The governor learned about this in a meeting Monday, February 1 where one participant told her that the Capitol pushes for economic recovery yet imposed requirements that make going to the Province difficult.
“Atol sa meeting giingnan ko nga ‘pero Gwen nagsige ka’g duso og economic recovery, pero ngano’ng gilisud-lisod man ang mga tawo nga mangabot nga dunay negosyo, dunay katuyoan sa Probinsya sa Sugbo?’ Diha ko nahasinta. Wala man ko’y order. Wala man ko’y gipirmahan nga executive order or memorandum,” she expressed.
Garcia also questioned the authority of Garganera over the Province.
“Since when na-extend iyang authority diri sa Province of Cebu? This is a very serious concern. How could they use my name by saying the Letter of Coordination is an order by the governor?” she pointed out.
“Be that as it may, sa tanang nahasol sulod sa buwan sa Enero tungod kay naghimo-himo og kaugalingon didto nga balaud ang mga tawo nga wala’y labot sa Probinsya sa Sugbo, gahapon pa lang (February 1) gitangtang na ang lamisa didto, hasta ang booth ug ang alleyway,” the governor said.
Garcia also said the restriction led to lost opportunities after a Korean investor backed out upon learning of the requirement.
“He wanted to go to Bantayan because there was a resort up for sale and he wanted to buy it and revive it. But then he was required of a Letter of Acceptance from the governor and from the LGU of Santa Fe. So, he decided not to come,” she narrated.
“Opportunities lost because of misrepresentation by people who have absolutely no authority over the Province,” Garcia stated. (Eleanor Valeros)