EL NIDO, Palawan – Mayor Edna Gacot-Lim issued a statement Sunday, clarifying issues surrounding a group of 88 tourists from San Vicente town who needed to board their exit flights from here, after netizens expressed concern over a Facebook post that circulated on March 21.

Several netizens voiced concern when a Facebook post circulated that a group of 88 tourists from San Vicente had entered El Nido despite all forms of land transfers already canceled, and ECQ in the municipality was in place.

An official statement was released by the municipal government on its Facebook page on March 23, detailing the events that transpired from March 21 to 22, wherein a new set of “mercy flights” of AirSwift were opened in order to fly out more stranded tourists in the municipality.

“As the last mercy flight on March 19th left, tourism offices of different municipalities in Palawan were tasked to further facilitate the departure of the remaining tourists. With pressure set from foreign embassies, on March 20, the DOT Central Office in coordination with its DOT-MIMAROPA and the Provincial Government of Palawan, tried to arrange more flights from Palawan to Clark,” the statement said.

The statement stressed that the arrangement of the “mercy flights” were already in place before the pronouncement of the first COVID-positive case in Palawan, an Australian national who visited Port Barton, San Vicente. The stranded tourists had come from the municipalities of El Nido, San Vicente, Roxas, and Puerto Princesa, which explains the entry of a large group of tourists entering El Nido.

Not all stranded tourists were able to fly out of El Nido on March 22. In order to restrict the tourists’ movements and not to risk the possibility of spreading COVID-19 among El Nido residents, Mayor Lim allowed them to sleep in the Lio Airport terminal on March 22.

“Because of these complications, I coordinated with AirSwift management to let the stranded passengers from other municipalities (144 pax) to stay in the airport to prevent any contact with the residents in El Nido,” the statement read.

“Guests were denied entry to any part of El Nido outside of Lio Airport. They stayed within the premises of the Lio Airport terminal and waited for re-scheduled flights,” it added.

The last of the stranded tourists were flown out on March 23, at 9:50 a.m. and 1:40 p.m.


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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.