Thousands of stranded persons pack Rizal Memorial sports facility
Presidential Management Staff and lead convener of "Hatid Tulong Project", Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo admitted violation of social distancing among the thousands of locally stranded individuals they brought to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
In a public briefing interview, Encabo explained why the Hatid Tulong Technical Working group decided to bring the locally stranded individuals at the 86-year-old sports facility.
"I'll just want to explain to everyone that in the past few days all of these people were at the street. They experienced rain for two nights and exposed to the sun.We have to make a decision to provide shelter for the LSIs, especially the senior citizen, pregnant and children," he said.
Encabo said they tried their best to have some distance between the locally stranded individuals.
Encabo told radio station dzBB said the government has sent 126,000 persons home. He said these are mostly people who lost their jobs.
"If were going to weigh (things), we know that if we have violation on the issue of social distancing, we also have to show sympathy, understanding and care for our people, for them to at least become comfortable while waiting for their trip today until tomorrow", said Encabo.
The first batch of locally stranded individuals, mostly from Mindanao, were set to leave by 5 pm.
"That is why we hope that the public would understand what the Hatid Tulong Technical Working Group did is a collective decision which aims to provide our people a temporary shelter while they are waiting for their trip going back to their provinces," he added.
Encabo said they also gave food and water to more than 7,500 LSIs.
"The confirmed number of LSIs has already reached to 7500 by it does not yet include the walk-ins who just arrived this morning. This is why we cannot prevent that, even if our venue is big. We already used the football field and baseball field of Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. They're really hoping that they will be able to go home today or tomorrow," he said.
"While they are waiting we give them water, food and some aid from the DSWD and the Office of the President," he added.
Some carried their possessions aside from their bags, Encabo said.
Encabo assured that those who will be able to go back to their provinces will undergo necessary check up and rapid test for COVID-19.
"Before they are given rapid test they have to undergo checkup with our DOH doctor . If they are negative, they will continue the process for travel authority but if an LSI was found positive on the rapid test, he or she will be placed in an isolation center and there will be a confirmatory test that will also be conducted by the DOH," he said.
"If they are negative on the swab test, they can also will be allowed to return to their provinces. If they were found positive on the confirmatory test, we have quarantine facility that caters Covid-19 positive LSIs," he added.
Encabo said there are thousands of locally stranded individuals waiting their turn to leave for their province. "We want to finish this as quickly as possible,'' Encabo told dzBB. Robina Asido/DMS