Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged concerned agencies implementing the ‘’Hatid Tulong’’ initiative, as with the public, to provide all possible forms of assistance to locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to help them cope with their current situation and to ensure their protection from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disease.
“National government initiative po ‘yan, headed by different government agencies,” he noted following the opening of the second regular session of the 18th Congress yesterday, adding the “DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government), DOT (Department of Tourism), DOTr (Department of Transportation), even Coast Guard po ay nandun and even the Armed Forces, DND (Department of National Defense) (That’s a national government initiative, headed by different government agencies. DILG, DOT, DOTr, even the Coast Guard and the Armed Forces, DND are there).”
“Directive po ‘yan ng Pangulo na tulungan silang makauwi (That’s the directive of the President — to help the LSIs return to their provinces).”
“As a legislator, I’m urging government to strictly follow protocols. Sundin niyo po ang health protocols at social distancing. Ang nabalitaan ko lang po sa nakaraang araw, umulan po at wala silang masisilungan. Kesa naman po palabuy-laboy sila sa kalye at wala silang mapupuntahan, tulungan na lang po natin sila. Pakainin natin, bigyan natin ng tulong hanggang makauwi po sila (Follow the health protocols and social distancing. I learned the other day, the LSIs were looking for shelter in the middle of a downpour. Instead of letting them stay on the street, let’s help them. Give them food, and help them until they have returned to their respective provinces), ’’ he added.
Go said officials and the general public should show compassion and understanding to the LSIs.
“Ako mismo po, tumutulong po ako sa kanila. Nagbibigay po kami ng masks, mga pagkain din po doon sa kanila. Kawawa naman po ang mga Pilipino (I personally helped them. We provided them masks and food. I pity the Filipinos),” he said.
“Kaysa naman batikusin pa natin ang organizers at hayaan lang natin na palabuy-laboy diyan sa kalye [ang mga LSIs] at naghihintay diyan sa labas ng pier, nasa sidewalk at nauulanan, tulungan na lang po natin silang makauwi sa kanilang mga probinsya sa ligtas na paraan (Instead of criticizing the organizers and allowing the LSIs to remain on the street and sidewalks braving the rain while waiting outside transportation terminals, let’s help them get home safely),” Go added.
Amid reports on a sizable number of stranded Filipinos crammed at the Rizal Memorial baseball stadium in Manila awaiting transportation to their home provinces, Presidential Management Staff and Hatid Tulong initiative convener Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo explained they were let inside the stadium to prevent them from loitering.
Encabo noted that some of the LSIs included children, pregnant women, senior citizens and persons with disability.
Encabo said as of July 27, 126,000 LSIs have already been transported back to their home provinces.
He, however, lamented that a huge number of LSIs still remain with some local government units (LGUs) imposing strict requirements for their entry while some would not accept them at all.
Go earlier said the Hatid Probinsya initiative must be implemented in compliance with necessary health and safety protocols and with proper coordination between national agencies and concerned LGUs to ensure the safety of travelers and their communities.
“Nais ko ipaalala sa lahat na hindi natin pwedeng ipagkait ang karapatan ng mga Pilipino na makauwi sa sarili nilang bayan (I want to remind everybody that we should not deprive our fellow Filipinos of their right to return to their own homes),” Go said.
“Sabi rin mismo ni Pangulong Duterte, ‘mga Pilipino ito, mga kababayan natin. Tanggapin ninyo. Kawawa naman (President Durterte himself said: ‘They’re Filipinos, they’re our countrymen, You have to accept them. Have pity on them).”