Gov’t temporarily stops transit of stranded persons; plans new testing protocols

Published June 25, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government has temporarily halted the transit of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) amid plans to introduce new testing protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Vivencio Dizon announced Thursday.

Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Secretary Vince Dizon (MANILA BULLETIN)

The stranded persons will undergo mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing before being allowed to travel back to their hometowns, according to Dizon, also deputy chief implementer of the government’s action plan against the coronavirus.

The latest testing protocol for the LSIs aims to ensure the person is “COVID-free” as well as
protect their home community from any possible infection.

“Sa kasalukuyan, kailangan munang ihinto ang pagbiyahe ng ating mga LSI dahil magkakaroon na po tayo ng bagong protocol ‘no dahil nga dumating na ang ating mga test kit, isa-subject na po natin sa mandatory PCR ang lahat ng mga locally stranded individuals bago po sila bumiyahe papunta sa mga probinsiya (At present, the travel of our LSIs needed to be stopped because we will have a new protocol. Since the test (kits) have arrived, we will subject the locally stranded individuals under mandatory PCR before they return to their provinces),” Dizon said during a Palace press briefing.

“Ito po ay para protektahan sila at ma-ensure na sila ay COVID-free, and at the same time, kailangan ding protektahan natin ang mga communities at mga probinsiya at LGU na patutunguhan nila. So kailangan pong gawin iyan sa mga susunod na araw (This aims to protect them, ensure they are COVID-free and at the same time, we need to protect the communities, the provinces, the local government units where they intend to go. So we must implement this in the coming days),” he added.

At present, Dizon said a government task force has already been formed to provide assistance to locally stranded persons. They will be given food and temporary shelter while waiting for their flights or bus rides home.

At least 1.05 million testing supplies have been delivered to the country to boost the government’s targeted tested program, Dizon said.

Asked when the suspension of the travel of LSIs will take effect, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters: “Effective today.”

The plight of the locally stranded individuals was recently put on the spotlight after the death of Michelle Silvertino. The young mother died early this month after waiting for five days at a Pasay footbridge for her bus ride back to Bicol.

Many stranded individuals were later spotted staying under an elevated highway near the airport. The government immediately sent buses to bring them to a nearby military camp.

In a bid to prevent another death of a stranded person, President Duterte earlier directed concerned agencies to extend shelter and transport assistance for people who are unable to catch a ride home due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Some local government units however have complained that some returning residents have tested positive upon arrival in their hometowns.

In a recent report to the President, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the number of locally stranded persons in Metro Manila has reached 40,000. He said these people have been given temporary shelter while waiting for their flight and bus ride home.