Thousands of locally stranded individuals (LSI) were successfully sent home in the provinces over the weekend under the government’s Hatid Tulong initiative.
“Based on the initial report, we’re still finalizing it, we were able to hit the 4,000 mark ‘no, of the LSIs who were sent off to Mindanao and Luzon and in Bohol and in Palawan,” Presidential Management Staff Assistant Secretary Joseph ‘Joy’ Encabo said in an interview during the Laging Handa public briefing aired over government station PTV-4 on Monday.
“So, masaya po kami dahil marami na pong natulungan ang ating pamahalaan, hindi lang po ito sa grand sendoff pati iyong mga previous ones. So indikasyon po ito na magpapatuloy po ang ating pagtulong sa mga LSIs papunta sa kanilang mga probinsiya,” he added.
(We are happy because the government were able to help many people, not only in the grand sendoff but also in the previous ones. So, this is an indication that we will continue helping LSIs to get home to their provinces.)
Encabo said the LSI’s return was made possible through the efforts of the different government units and in partnership with bus company Partas and Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson, the current national president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.
The LSI went through medical assessment before being allowed to board their transport service to ensure that they are free from COVID-19. Social distancing measures were also enforced during the registration until they boarded the bus.
“Kung nakita ninyo iyong proseso na ginawa namin sa Quirino Grandstand na kahit sa entrance pa lang po ay talagang inoobserbahan na po iyong social distancing. So upon registration, i-endorse po namin sila sa DoH (Department of Health) para dumaan po sa rapid test as part of the medical protocol and a consultation with the practicing doctor or the attending physician from DoH. Then after that po, iyon na, ang travel authority,” Encabo said.
(If you saw the process which we did at the Quirino Grandstand which even in the entrance social distancing was being observed. So upon registration, we endorsed them to the DoH for them to undergo rapid test as part of the medical protocol and a consultation with the attending physician from DoH. Then after that the travel authority.)
“So sinisigurado po namin na ang mga LSIs na ito ay safe na safe or negative bago sila makarating sa kanilang mga probinsiya. At nagpapasalamat din po kami sa tulong ng—unang-una, ang lead oversight ng medical team, ang DoH, ang BoQ (Bureau of Quarantine), ang PNP (Philippine National Police) at ang mga ibang ahensiya na nagbigay po ng suporta para mai-test natin po iyong apat na libong LSIs na nakauwi noong July 4 and July 5,” she added.
(So we make sure that the LSIs are very safe or negative before they return to their provinces. So we thanked first and foremost the lead oversight of the medical team, DoH, BoQ, PNP and other agencies that provided support to help test the four thousand LSIs who were sent home last July 4 and 5.)
Encabo said upon the arrival of the LSI to their respective provinces, local government units will have their own medical protocol by conducting swab test on them with a compulsory 14-day quarantine.
“So iyon iyong balanseng proseso na ginampanan po ng national government at ng local government units para ma-ensure na ang papasok na LSI sa isang lugar ay safe po at hindi po carrier ng isang virus,” Encabo said.
“At kung sa pag-uusapan natin ang initial na proseso bago sila maka-alis, kapag ang LSI po ay naging positibo sa test na ginawa ng DoH ay agad-agad ika-quarantine siya, ilalagay sa facility at doon iko-conduct ang confirmatory test na iyong swabbing. So,if found out na iyong test ay positive, the DoH and the attending physicians will take care of the subsequent medical protocols; at kung negative naman po ay papayagan na pong umuwi sa kanila,” he said.
The Hatid Tulong Program is a joint initiative of the Office of the President, COVID-19 National Task Force, Department of Transportation and various other agencies.
As of 2 July 2020, it has provided assistance to a total of 62,762 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and other stranded individuals, 18,320 of whom were transported by land, 24,523 via air transport and 19,919 by sea transport. The program was launched in response to a directive by President Rodrigo Duterte to help LSI, OFW and other Filipinos affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila from March to May.