More than 8,000 stranded persons set to return to their provinces
More than 8,000 locally stranded individuals are set to go back to their home provinces this coming weekend through the Hatid Tulong program, according to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday.
Año said a total of 8, 408 locally stranded individuals, exceeding their 4,000 target, will be able to return to their provinces on July 25 and 26.
“We want to inform the public that the government continues to help our LSIs,” he said.
Año said these locally stranded individuals include the ones staying at the Philippine Army gymnasium, Villamor Air Base Elementary School, Manila Science High School, and Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The second batch also includes locally stranded individuals endorsed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, other government agencies, and Local Government Units.
Año explained that for the second phase of the Hatid Tulong Program, returning locally stranded individuals will board 120 buses, five sea vessels, two of which are from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and three from the Philippine Coast Guard; and Philippine National Railways trains.
“Just like the first batch of the Hatid Tulong… we will be ensuring that our LSIs will be comfortable and safe in the transportation modes that the government has prepared for them,” he said.
Returning locally stranded individuals will also be given food and non-food aid during their travel.
Meanwhile, DILG National Barangay Operations Office (NBOO) Director Dennis Villaseñor explained that locally stranded individuals who wish to go home to LGUs that still have an existing moratorium will not be allowed to return to their provinces.
He said they will be brought to a temporary housing facility in the City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
Villaseñor added the government is considering the absorptive capacity of the receiving LGU.
“We will check if their facility is already full, if there are still available test kits that will be our basis to approve their request for moratorium,” he said.
In an advisory released by the DILG last July 21, Año reminded LGUs with departing and returning locally stranded individuals to support the Hatid Tulong program.
Based on the advisory, he directed all LGUs to coordinate with their respective regional task forces and their sub-task units, prior to the sending or receiving of locally stranded individuals.
Receiving LGUs must also allow passage to transported locally stranded individuals arriving in their area of jurisdiction, provided they possess a medical clearance certification and travel authority.
They are also given the liberty to conduct PCR or polymerase chain reaction tests in accordance with local health protocols.
Año also directed the LGUs to prepare for the arrival of the LSIs such as transportation, reception team, isolation and quarantine facilities, provision of basic, medical, and sanitary needs of the LSIs while on quarantine, if needed. Ella Dionisio/DMS