The Inter-Agency Task Force the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed special commercial flights to bring home Filipinos, Malacañang said on Friday.
The special commercial flights are subject to guidelines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.
“The IATF authorized the conduct of special commercial flights to bring home stranded Filipinos in Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other countries where there are travel restrictions imposed,” Roque said.
He said a Special Working Group (SWG) would be formed to determine the protocols for the special commercial flights, in coordination with the concerned airlines.
The SWG, he said, would be composed of the Department of Health, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its One-Stop Shop, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Department of Tourism.
“The special commercial flights, which must have prior approval from the SWG, shall likewise be exclusive for Filipinos,” Roque said.
Roque said the guidelines on the repatriation programs by the Philippine government and non-government organizations should also be followed.
The IATF-EID earlier allowed non-Philippine government repatriation efforts amid the travel ban on India and other countries.
The travel restrictions on travelers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates have been extended until July 15 due to the threat posed by the Delta coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant.
Exempted from the travel ban are Filipinos who are returning to the country as part of the repatriation programs.
Under IATF-EID Resolution 119 issued on June 3, the DFA and OWWA are directed to do prior coordination with each other at least 48 hours before the departure of returning Filipinos.
The DFA and OWWA are also tasked to coordinate BOQ, the DOTr and its One-Stop-Shop, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 Task Group for the Management of Returning Overseas Filipinos.
In the case of non-Philippine government repatriations, all Filipino repatriates from the countries with travel restrictions must present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result taken within 48 hours before boarding the aircraft or vessel.
The BOQ’s approval is also needed for the entry of flight or vessel carrying Filipino repatriates before its movement from point of origin.
All repatriates from countries covered by the travel ban are mandated to undergo a strict 14-day facility-based quarantine upon their arrival, according to the resolution.