PAL’s Manila-bound international flights diverted to Cebu due to limited quarantine processing

SOME MANILA-bound international flights of Philippine Airlines (PAL) are being diverted to Cebu due to “quarantine processing limitations” at the country’s main gateway in the capital. In a phone message to BusinessWorld on Tuesday, PAL Spokesperson Cielo C. Villaluna said several Manila-bound flights of the flag carrier have been landing in Cebu “since June 19.” In an advisory on June 29, PAL, operated by PAL Holdings, Inc., alerted its Manila-bound passengers from July 1 to July 5 that they will “undergo the required COVID testing in Cebu rather than in Manila, and quarantine at a Cebu hotel accredited by the Department of Health.” PAL said the rerouting was necessary to avoid a full cancellation of flights. “Once you receive a negative test result (usually within 24 to 48 hours of the test), PAL will fly you from Cebu to Manila at no extra charge. Please note that the cost for the COVID tests and the quarantine hotel will be borne by the traveler, whether the tests and quarantine take place in Cebu or Manila,” it added. The test and accommodation costs for returning overseas Filipino workers are covered by the government. The advisory was addressed to passengers departing from Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Singapore, Nagoya, Osaka Kansai, Bangkok, Taipei, Hong Kong, Fukuoka, and Guam. Passengers were also advised to book their Cebu accommodation at an accredited hotel prior to their scheduled departure. “We suggest that you book your hotel for at least two (2) nights, in line with the expected 24 to 48 hours processing time to receive the COVID test results,” PAL said. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Cebu Pacific appeals for increased frequency to Davao to meet demand

GMR MEGAWIDE CEBU AIRPORT Corp., operator of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, has set up a COVID-19 testing laboratory at Terminal 2, which has been accredited and is now operational for arriving passengers. — @MACTANCEBUAIRPORT FB PAGE

BUDGET AIRLINE Cebu Pacific is appealing to the city government here to allow more regular commercial flights to the Davao International Airport, citing high demand from stranded individuals in Manila. “We are really appealing for the city government of Davao to allow us and we are ready to mount additional flights that we can announce in regularity so that the people know when they have to be at the airport,” Cebu Pacific Corporate Communications Director Charo Logarta Lagamon said in a phone interview. The airport serves as the regional hub for Davao and several neighboring provinces. Cebu Pacific currently flies twice a week to Davao, one directly from Manila and another with a Cebu stop. Ms. Lagamon said these flights are already fully booked until July. “The only other way to solve this dilemma of stranded individuals who have nowhere else to go in Manila in particular is to really add frequency,” she said. “We can even do once daily for Davao City or more because in places like Cagayan de Oro for instance, we are allowed twice a day already. Note that the demand for CDO is not as much as Davao,” she added.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, said they have submitted a proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for additional flights to and from Manila and other domestic airports. These are: Manila-Davao every Monday via Cebu Pacific; Manila-Davao every Wednesday via AirAsia; Manila-Davao every Thursday via Philippine Airlines (PAL); Davao-Iloilo every Friday via PAL; and Davao-Clark, also every Friday via PAL. “We submitted a proposal for additional flights to CAAP and the new schedules came up during the inter-agency meeting conducted together with Davao International Airport and CAAP,” Ms. Carpio said over the city-run radio station on Thursday. The current limited flights are part of the management measures to avoid a surge in coronavirus cases in the city, where there were 84 active patients out of the total 411 confirmed cases as of June 28. — Maya M. Padillo

Military asks NBI to probe police shooting of 4 soldiers in Jolo

THE MILITARY commander in western Mindanao has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to handle the probe of a shooting incident in Jolo, Sulu on June 29 where four soldiers were killed by police officers. “We also requested the NBI to investigate to ensure impartiality. We don’t want any escalation of hostilities out of the incident. Our interest is to know the facts and give justice,” Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said in a statement issued late Monday night. “We appeal to the public not to sensationalize the incident through the social media or any other means. We will wait for the investigation to be completed,” he added. The four casualties, all members of the Philippine Army, were “hot on the trail of Abu Sayyaf members, bomb makers, and suicide bombers in Sulu province” when the incident happened, according to Army Commanding General Gilbert I. Gapay. In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Gapay said the police officers at the checkpoint fired upon the military team “even after properly identifying themselves.” The fatalities were identified as Maj. Marvin Indamog, commanding officer of the 9th Intelligence Service Unit, Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Eric Velasco, and Cpol Abdal Asula.

The nine cops involved in the shooting have been removed from their posts and placed under restrictive custody, according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año. He has also asked the NBI to undertake an investigation. “I want to know what happened and not stone be left unturned,” Mr. Año said in a statement sent through Viber. Sulu police director Col. Michael Bawayan said the involved cops are non-commissioned officers. — with a report from Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR

10 detained foreigners deported

TEN FOREIGNERS detained at the Bureau of Immigration facility in Taguig City have been deported as part of efforts to decongest the facility amid the coronavirus crisis. In a statement Tuesday, Commissioner Jaime H. Morente reiterated his directive to the immigration’s legal division to expedite the resolution of deportation cases to immediately send back the foreigners to their home countries. “We are doing this to safeguard the health not only of the foreign detainees but also that of our personnel assigned to our warden facility,” the immigration chief said. Of the 10, eight were Chinese and two were Mongolians. Five of the Chinese were wanted for economic crimes relating to illegal online gaming operations and telecom fraud while the three others were reported to be overstaying and committed fraud and misrepresentation. The Mongolians were alleged female sex workers caught in one of the raids in Metro Manila last year. The bureau reported earlier that it deported seven Chinese nationals, four of whom were fugitives while three were illegal black sand miners. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas