By Marita Moaje
MANILA – Some locally stranded individuals (LSIs) appealed for public understanding amid resistance and negative comments hurled against people seeking to go home to their provinces under the government’s “Hatid Tulong” program.
Realyn dela Cruz, who is traveling back to Quirino province with her husband and their three young children, the youngest of whom is only three-months-old, said people should not discriminate those who want to go back to their provinces because everyone is affected by the pandemic.
“Please do not look down on us. Nobody wanted to be stranded, we are all affected. It is hard to be stranded here in Manila, at least in the province, there are plenty of vegetables,” she said in Tagalog in an interview.
She said they were already planning to go back to the province, but when she gave birthto their third child last March 11, the lockdown was announced. “It is very difficult here so we are going home),” she said.
Meanwhile, Evelyn Binoloc, 25, an OFW from Kuwait, arrived in the country last April 9 and never got the chance to go home to their province in Kalinga.
She got stranded with her sister in Bulacan, who went there from Kalinga, to give birth. They were supposed to travel back to Kalinga with her four-month-old nephew. To be able to go to the Quirino Grandstand where they are processed, they hailed a taxi in Bulacan.
“This is a big help for those who have no means to go home to the province. At least it is safer there),” she said.
Before leaving Kuwait, Evelyn was already placed under quarantine for 14 days. Upon arrival at NAIA, they were checked and underwent another 14 days of quarantine. When they finally arrive in Kalinga, they will be quarantined for another 14 days, the third in a row.
Raring to go home
For her part, Maribel Alconcel, is raring to go back home to Vigan City in Ilocos Sur with her 78-year-old mother. “We planned to go home after school ended, but we got stranded. My father was left in the province,” she said and thanked the government for the Hatid Tulong program.
“Many want to go home to the province. Even if they are capable to pay for the tickets, however, there are no modes of transportation. It’s good there is a program like this. They said we will be under quarantine upon arrival there, that’s fine with us since it would mean safety for our family there. All of us are affected, nobody should discriminate those coming from Manila. We will follow safety protocols),” she assured.
Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo, has also appealed for understanding from those who criticize the Hatid Tulong program.
“These are Filipinos who are in dire need of help because they are considered LSIs. They have no intention to be virus carriers. They merely need to go home because they need to be with their families. And being with their family also give them the sense of hope and sense of security. We ask everyone to understand and receive them),” he said.
Encabo stressed that it is the duty of the government to take care of its people. “We have to respond and help people in need. We are in a pandemic and we do not know who will be hit next. What is important is to have discipline and how we protect ourselves and our families),” he said, adding that last Saturday they were able to send home around 3,100 LSIs.
“We were expecting almost 2,000 because we opened up the transport assistance to all LSIs bound for Luzon. We have Region 1 (Ilocos), Cagayan Valley and CAR, Central Luzon, Bicol, Mimaropa that covers Mindoro, and of course Marinduque, Romblon and Bohol and Palawan.”
Encabo said last Saturday, some 12 LSIs tested positive during the rapid test. They were immediately isolated and brought to the CCP Complex Quarantine Facility. “I think the proportion of the number of positive cases vs. the number of people who registered is very very small. They were already isolated, and will be subject to confirmatory test. If they turn out positive, they will continue the quarantine for 14 days, and allowed to go home if they will be found out negative subsequently,” he added. (PNA)