By Malu Cadelina Manar
KIDAPAWAN CITY – The head of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in North Cotabato has disclosed that a number of locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) that they rescued since they created the Task Force Sagip Stranded Cotabatenos have mulled committing suicide.
According to IATF Cotabato head Dr. Philbert Malaluan, that they learned of these sad development among the returning residents in exchanges through social media, text messages or phone calls.
Malaluan, who is also Cotabato second district board member, said that most of them applied for jobs abroad, who were prevented from leaving the country because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Some were already bankrupt. They have no more money. Some even had their families broken while they were in Manila because of continued fights with their partners through use of mobile phones,” he said.
The members of the task force, however, were taking these chats seriously, the board member said.
“A staff is at least giving each LSI an hour just to listen to his woes, problems, and his/her issues, just to ensure that he/she will not commit suicide,” he explained.
One of the pressing issues that a returning overseas Filipino worker was facing was survival.
“They have no job here. They have loans and have no means to pay the amortization,” Malaluan said.
To help the returning OFW and LSIs, the provincial government will provide them livelihood assistance. Funds will be coming from the provincial government and from the representatives of the three legislative districts in North Cotabato, according to Malaluan.
On Tuesday, another 132 LSIs from Cebu and Iloilo tested negative for COVID-19 after reaching North Cotabato on Tuesday.
Malaluan said that these individuals boarded two sweeper flights – 116 from Air Asia and the rest from Cebu Pacific.
They arrived at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City on Tuesday night and were transported onboard 22 passenger vans to the Cotabato provincial government capitol complex in Barangay Amas for decontamination.
Malaluan said the LSIs, after taking their dinner on Tuesday, underwent rapid testing, to which everybody tested negative.
Another batch of LSIs will be rescued by the provincial government on Wednesday.
To date, the provincial government has already rescued 2,600 LSIs and returning OFWs under its Task Force Sagip Stranded Cotabatenos.