Gov’t asked to allow LSIs to return to provinces

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    THE Hatid Tulong technical working group is asking the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to travel to their provinces amid the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.

    Presidential Management Staff Assistant Secretary and Hatid Tulong convenor Joseph Encabo said there are scheduled trips on August 5 and 8 to parts of Luzon and the Visayas involving close to 500 LSIs that were stopped due the MECQ declaration.

    Among the destinations are Samar, Leyte, Palawan and Dumaguete.

    Encabo said the TWG is set to submit its formal letter to the IATF seeking an exemption from the MECQ travel restrictions and approval to allow the trips to proceed. He said the TWG would re-schedule the trips if they get permission from the IATF.

    He said they would also coordinate anew with transportation companies as well as the local government units (LGUs) amenable to receiving their kababayans. The LSIs, who would undergo raid tests before they leave Metro Manila, would undergo mandatory quarantine and PCR tests upon reaching their destination.

    “Kapag hindi natin aasikasuhin sa loob ng dalawang linggo ay talagang magkakaroon ng matagal na pag-aantay at mas magiging vulnerable at magiging psychologically disturbed ang ating mga LSIs (If we do not process this in two weeks, there will be a prolonged wait on the part of the LSIs. They will be more vulnerable and they might become psychologically disturbed),” he added.

    Encabo explained that some of the LSISs had been advised about their scheduled trips and was looking forward to it.

    He said delaying the trip to their homes anew could affect the emotional and psychological well-being of the LSIs who had been staying in temporary shelters, provided by the government, for a time now.

    Encabo, during the Laging Handa network briefing, said the TWG had resorted to pockets or cluster send-off per provinces instead of a grand one-time send off to ensure compliance to social distancing and ensure the safety and health of LSIs.

    He said 6,583 individuals were sent off during the grand send-off from July 25 to 29.

    Encabo said that with the MECQ declaration, they anticipate an increase in the number of LSIs to include returning overseas Filipinos.

    At least 126,000 LSIs had been sent off to the provinces since the program was launched to help those affected by the lockdown implemented in Metro Manila and other parts of the country since late March.

    DOLE: 120K OFWs BACK IN HOME TOWNS

    More than 120,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers have been sent home to their provinces after arriving from abroad, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said 122,369 OFWs had so far been assisted and sent to their home provinces since May.

    “A total of 2,369 OFWs took their rides home from the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange on the eve of the return of the National Capital Region (NCR) to modified enhanced community quarantine last Monday,” Bello said.

    He added they expect the number of returning OFWs to continue to rise as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic rages.

    “We will not get tired of assisting our returning OFWs, and facilitate their transport to the provinces and be with their families,” assured Bello.

    Back in May, thousands of OFWs were stuck in quarantine facilities provided by the government as they were required to undergo mandatory quarantine upon arrival and get tested for COVID-19. – With Gerard Naval