By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo urged the government to study again its program that brings home locally stranded individuals, citing the rising cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the provinces.
Robredo, an opposition leader, cited her hometown of Naga City in Camarines Sur where the number of new COVID-19 cases was observed after the implementation of the Hatid Probinsya program.
The vice president said Naga City has been free of the infectious disease for 40 days until five new cases were recorded recently.
“Sa Bicol, ngayon lang mga nakaraang araw—kahapon lang yata—plus 8 kami. Majority mga galing sa Maynila. At iyong lima, iyong apat doon dahil sa dalawang member of the family na galing Cavite. (In Bicol, in the past few days—just yesterday—we were plus 8 cases. Majority of them came from Manila. Of the five, four of them got infected because two family members returned from Cavite),” she said over radio station dzXL.
The National Task Force against COVID-19 on Sunday suspended the trips of LSIs from Metro Manila to Western Visayas and Eastern Visayas to prevent the further spread of the virus to these regions.
The return of the LSIs to their home provinces is banned for two weeks upon the request of local government officials.
Robredo called on the inter-agency task force to review the program and improve in areas where lapses have been committed.
This includes the health protocols implemented for locally stranded individuals and their return to their home provinces using private vehicles.
“Mahirap itong sasabihin lang na suspended tapos wala namang kapalit. Kasi kung walang kapalit ang iba talaga magpupumilit nang umuwi. (It’s hard to say the trips will be suspended with no replacement. If it won’t be replaced, the others would still insist on coming home),” she said.
Robredo noted the problem with private vehicles, even if the LGUs have protocols, they don’t have a way of monitoring them if they don’t register.
“Ang problema kapag napipilitang mag-private, mas mahirap i-control, mas mahirap i-regulate. (The problem when they are forced to use private vehicles, it’s difficult to control and regulate),” the official said.
Robredo’s office, in cooperation with various LGUs, has assisted 1,789 stranded individuals return to their home