DILG told: Take care of LSIs

    President Duterte at the regular Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) (Photo by SIMEON CELI JR./ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

    PRESIDENT Duterte on Tuesday night ordered concerned government agencies to provide accommodations and food for locally stranded individuals (LSIs) while they are waiting for their ride home.

    The President called attention to recent reports about some people sleeping near airports and seaports while waiting for the resumption of flights and sea travel.

    Duterte directed Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano to oversee the gathering of the LSIs and to provide for their needs.

    “Gather all na naghihintay…na walang matulugan, walang matirahan at nandiyan sa labas ng NAIA or whatever sa airport, you will be transported to a place. I will pay, you just bill me pati pagkain (Gather all that are waiting…those who have nowhere to sleep, nowhere to stay and are staying outside of NAIA or whatever in the airport. You will be transported to a place. I will pay, you just bill me even for food),” he said.

    The President, however, said the LSIs should expect simple fares, explaining the government has limited budget due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Ano and National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. reported to the President that the government is attending to the LSIs and temporary shelters had been provided in an elementary school inside the Villamor Air Base and a gymnasium at the Philippine Air Force’ headquarters.

    The government has been providing transportation for LSIs and is set to ferry more than 4,000 individuals to Mindanao and Northern Luzon this weekend under the Hatid Tulong program.

    Roque acknowledged concerns of some local government officials that the coronavirus might spread through the arrival of LSIs, some returning Filipinos from abroad and overseas Filipino workers following recent reports of COVID-19 cases in the Visayas and Mindanao that were attributed to people who recently returned to their provinces.

    The national government will subject the LSIs to rapid tests before they are allowed to be transported home to prevent people infected by COVID-19 from travelling.

    Once they reach their destinations, the LSIs will be subjected to swab tests and 14-day quarantine.

    The President also directed the transportation department to terminate the contracts of some restaurants at the Ninoy Aquino Airport so the space they are occupying can be used to accommodate passengers waiting for their flights.

    The President said he had been bothered by reports that some passengers were sleeping outside the airport or on the grounds because there were no seats.

    The President said the department may also consider setting up seats for waiting passengers at the NAIA 1 and transport the passengers to other NAIA terminals once their flights are available.