Sending home stranded travellers may now be by region to avoid overcrowding

The government may send home stranded travelers per region to prevent a repeat of the overcrowding that occurred at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum last weekend, according to a Palace official.


Presidential spokesman Harry Roque admitted that lapses in the “Hatid-Tulong” program after a huge number of people flocked to the sports complex in Manila, breaking the physical distancing rule amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Bulag naman ako kung sasabihin kong walang pagkakamali doon; mayroon pong pagkakamali doon. Dapat po iyon nagkaroon ng sistema na bagama’t maraming tao doon sa Rizal Memorial Coliseum, dapat siniguro po ang social distancing (I would be blind to say there was no mistake there. There were mistakes there. There should have been a system that even if there were many people gathered at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, social distancing should have been observed),” he said during a televised press briefing.

Roque proposed changes in the government's transportation program for travelers to ensure compliance with health measures. He said he would talk to Presidential Management Staff Assistant Joseph Encabo, head of the Hatid-Tulong program, on transporting the locally stranded individuals (LSIs) based on their home regions.

“Siguro ang gagawin natin ay iyong mga Hatid Tulong, eh gawin na nating regional ng sa ganoon ay hindi magdagsaan lahat at magkaroon tayo ng social distancing habang nag-aantay ng bus na masasakyan ng mga LSIs (Perhaps, we can make the Hatid-Tulong program by region so not all people would flock to a place, thus we can implement social distancing while the LSIs are waiting for their bus ride),” he said.

It was recalled that thousands went to Rizal stadium over the weekend to avail themselves of the government's transportation program back to their home provinces.

The government had wanted to test people before they can board their buses.

Only recently, Encabo said eight people tested positive during rapid tests conducted by the government. They have been placed on isolation centers.

It was learned that most of the stranded travelers were able to catch a ride back to their home towns. The government reportedly plans to complete the transit of all LSIs by Thursday.