A cubicle ready to be occupied by a returning residents in the Magarwak facility.

Puerto Princesa Incident Management Team (IMT) officials unveiled on Thursday a new quarantine facility intended for travelers coming to the city.

The building was previously used as a quarantine facility for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who contracted COVID-19 in mid-2020.

According to IMT chief Dr. Dean Palanca, the facility, located in Sitio Magarwak, Barangay Sta. Lourdes is intended only for returning residents who cannot afford to stay in a hotel. This is because hotels are only free for COVID-positive patients.

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“Kapag nag-positive naman, kailangan na ‘yon dalhin sa city proper, sa mga facility doon. At doon, kakailanganin niyang ikumpleto ang 10 or 14 days,” said Palanca.

In the Magarwak facility, only food will be shouldered by the returning residents, as mandated by the travel guidelines set by the city Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). Travelers need to stay in the facility for seven days, after which they will be subjected to an antigen test. If negative, they may proceed to their homes.

The facility has 60 rooms or cubicles made out of thick tarpaulins and a cloth curtain that serve as its door. Inside is a wooden bed frame with a pillow and mattress. Some cubicles contain double-decker beds for families traveling together, while most contain a single bed. There is no air conditioning in the facility, but officials said each cubicle will be provided with an electric fan.

Bathrooms are shared, and those staying in the facilities need to disinfect the entire bathroom after use. There is also a nurse’s station at the facility, which will be manned by IMT health workers. The IMT is also working on putting up a small kitchen for guests to use. Palanca said that in the meantime, guests can ask relatives to bring them food.

City budget officer Regina Cantillo said in a separate interview on Friday that the total allocated budget to purchase beds, cloth tarpaulins, curtains, and other materials needed for the facility was P8.4-million, which she had been programmed in 2020. She added that the funds came from the city government’s savings and that the entire facility was set up solely by City Engineering staff. Other operational expenses are charged to the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office’s (CDRMMO) budget.

Palanca added that they are still settling things with the Department of Education (DepEd) to use some public schools in the city so more beds and rooms can be used for returning residents.

“The DepEd is just waiting for our advise, inaayos pa kasi namin on our part,” he added.

The additional set of rooms through a new isolation building is also underway, which is near the training center. The building is a contracted project. The contractor, GSMAXX, came under fire early from several local officials due to its reported delays in the implementation of their projects.

According to Dr. Palanca, the nearly 100-room building, with an allocated budget of P55-million, is expected to be finished by the fourth quarter of 2021.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.