Gov’t allows 2 ships to bring last batch of stranded persons to provinces

Published June 26, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government has allowed on Friday (June 26) the voyage of two ships to bring home the last batch of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) before the government starts to implement the new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing protocols.


Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the two ships with stranded individuals on board are bound for Bacolod, Iloilo, and Cagayan de Oro.

“We further wish to state that this will be the last batch of LSIs that will be allowed to return to their respective hometowns until we subject them to RT-PCR tests,” he said during a Palace press briefing.

Concerned local officials have been alerted to subject the returning residents to testing and quarantine to ensure they are not infected with the illness.

“We ask the receiving local governments units to administer RT-PCR tests in their areas if possible and subject the returnees to quarantine,” Roque said.

According to Roque, the government has decided to implement a “temporary suspension” on the transit of LSIs pending the crafting of the guidelines on PCR testing for all returning residents.

He said all individuals, including overseas Filipino workers and stranded passengers, must test negative for coronavirus before they can board their plane, ship or bus ride home. The latest testing protocol of returning residents seeks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus disease in the provinces.

“Moratorium lang muna ang sinabi ni (Chief Implementer of the government’s coronavirus response) General (Carlito) Galvez kahapon with the exception of the two 2Go vessels na maglalayag ngayon. Babalangkasin kung paano mabibigyan ng PCR test ang mga locally stranded individuals bagamat meron na tayong one million available PCR testing kits (General Galvez had mentioned a moratorium with the exception of the two 2Go vessels that will sail today. The guidelines will be crafted on how locally stranded individuals will be given PCR testing although we have already one million available PCR testing kits),” Roque said.

The government’s assistance program for returning residents has recently been blamed for the surge in coronavirus cases in some areas previously free from infection. Certain local government units have expressed concern that some returnees have tested positive upon their arrival in their areas of jurisdiction.

The Balik Probinsya program, that assists urban dwellers who wish to return to the provinces, has earlier been deferred by the government.

According to Roque, the government has listened to the complaints raised by some local officials like Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez about the infections cases arising from the transit of returning residents.

Under the Hatid Tulong program, stranded passengers in Metro Manila were previously subjected only to rapid test kits before their departure to their home provinces.

“Lahat na ng uuwi sa probinsya ay bibigyan ng PCR test bago sila pauwiin (All those returning to the provinces will be given PCR testing before being allowed to go home),” he said.