2,000 more stranded persons to be sent home this week
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said at least 2,000 locally stranded individuals (LSIs) are scheduled to be transported back to their hometowns this week after transporting close to 5,000 for the past three days.
“With the help of other government agencies and the private sector, a total of 4,793 LSIs have been reunited with their families after being stranded in the metropolis due to the global pandemic. For the 2,000 more LSIs who are still being processed, many of whom are walk-ins who trooped to the Rizal Memorial Stadium, we will be able to send them home this week,” said Año.
Of the 4,793 LSIs, 35 are bound for Ilocos Region; 106 for Central Luzon; 11 for Mimaropa; 149 for Bicol Region; 623 for Western Visayas; 325 to Central Visayas; 696 to Eastern Visayas; 56 to Northern Mindanao; 517 to Davao Region; 724 to Soccsksargen; 1,512 to Caraga Region; and 39 to Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR).
He said the 2,000 LSIs left at the Rizal Memorial Stadium are waiting for trips bound for Zamboanga, Butuan, and Davao.
“We cannot just send them home to their provinces. They need to be screened by DOH (Department of Health) and PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) and to undergo rapid tests before they can board the bus and ship,” Año said.
Año said that those who tested positive were brought to an isolation facility for proper medical treatment. The others who tested negative were issued travel authorities in compliance with DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-085 on the management of LSIs.
“Before boarding, the LSIs received additional aid such as food packages and financial assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Agriculture (DA),” he said.
According to Año, the LSIs were transported to their home provinces via 70 buses given by the League of Municipalities, three Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels, two 2Go vessels, and Philippine National Railway (PNR) trains.
Meanwhile, the list of LSIs were endorsed to the DILG regional offices concerned for monitoring and tracking at their LGUs of destinations.
However, Año also called for understanding to those LSIs who were not pre-registered but flocked to the stadium but could not be accommodated because of an existing moratorium in their LGU destinations.
“They were transported to a temporary shelter in a housing project of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan onboard four buses. We will not neglect them,” he said.
For future Hatid Tulong programs, Año said they will designate one jump-off point for each region where the LSIs are headed to avoid what happened last weekend where hundreds of unregistered people came to the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium to avail of the government’s free ride program.
DILG said the second phase of Hatid Tulong was more challenging because of the huge influx of people over the weekend and the unexpected number of walk-in applicants.
The number of LSIs have grown tremendously because added to those who were stranded in Metro Manila because of the lockdown are those who lost their jobs and their homes due to the economic slowdown.
The second phase of Hatid Tulong program was made possible through the joint efforts of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), DILG, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), DSWD, DA, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, Philippine National Police, Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), PSG, 2Go, PNR, DOH, NHA, Partas Bus Line, AFP, DOLE, LTFRB.
The PMS, being on top of the preparations and coordination, tapped all necessary resources to make the send-off of LSIs possible. Ella Dionisio/DMS