The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday said 8,408 locally stranded individuals (LSIs) will be returned to their home provinces through the “Hatid Tulong’’ program this weekend, July 25 to 26.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año noted the second installment of “Hatid Tulong’’ far exceeded the initial target of 4,000.
He stressed this is a testament of the government’s unending commitment “to ensure that LSIs will be able to go home to their provinces safe and sound.”
The returning LSIs include those staying at the Philippine Army Gymnasium, the Villamor Air Base Elementary School, the Manila Science High School, and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
This also includes those endorsed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, other government agencies and local government units (LGUs).
Año said the latest batch of LSIs will board 120 buses, five sea vessels, two of which are from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and three from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Philippine National Railways (PNR) trains.
“Gaya ng first batch ng Hatid Tulong noong unang linggo ng July (Like the initial batch of the Hatid Tulong on the first week of July), we will be ensuring that our LSIs will be comfortable and safe in the transportation modes that the government has prepared for them,” Año said.
He added that the returning LSIs will also be given food and non-food aid during travel.
However, DILG National Barangay Operations Office (NBOO) Director Dennis Villaseñor explained LSIs who wish to go home to LGUs that still have an existing moratorium against their return will not yet be allowed to go home but will be brought to a temporary housing facility in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
“Iginagalang po natin ang ating mga pamahalaang lokal kung saan babalik ang ating mga LSI. Kung sila po ay patungo sa mga LGU na may umiiral pang moratorium ay hindi muna natin sila mapapauwi at pansamantalang dadalhin sa isang maayos na housing facility sa Bulacan (We respect the receiving LGUs. If they are bound to the LGUs with existing moratorium we will not yet allow them to return home and we will just bring them to a well-equipped housing facility in Bulacan),’’ Villaseñor said.
He added that the government had considered the absorptive capacity of the receiving LGU.
“Tinitignan po natin kung puno na ba ang kanilang mga pasilidad, may available pa ba silang test kits na magiging basehan para aprubahan ang request for a moratorium (We are monitoring if their facilities are in full capacity, if there are available test kits which will be the basis for the approval of their request for a moratorium),” he added.
In an advisory released by the DILG on July 21, Año reminded the LGUs with departing and returning LSIs to support the Hatid Tulong program.
Año directed all LGUs to coordinate with their respective Regional Task Forces and their sub-task units, prior to the sending or receiving of LSIs.
In the same advisory, the receiving LGUs must allow the passage of the transported LSIs arriving in their area of jurisdiction provided that they possess a medical clearance certification and travel authority.
Villaseñor said that the receiving LGUs are given the liberty to conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in accordance with local health protocols.
Año also noted that the “LGUs to prepare for the arrival of the LSIs such as transportation, reception team, isolation and quarantine facilities, provision of basic, medical and sanitary needs of the LSIs while on quarantine, if needed.”