HOME-BOUND. Locally stranded individuals (LSIs) in the National Capital Region bound for the different provinces in Luzon are processed at the Quirino Grandstand and sent home via the Hatid Tulong initiative on Sunday (July 5). They appealed for understanding to end the stigma hurled against individuals going back to their provinces (Photo 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 and 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.
“Huwag po sana nilang maliitin kami kasi wala naman pong may kagustuhan na ma-stranded po, pare-parehas naman tayong naapektuhan. Para po sa amin lalo na dito sa Maynila, kung wala kang pera dito, kasi dito lahat binibili di tulad sa probinsya kahit wala kang pera, dun pwede kang manguha ng mga gulay, pwede kang dumiskarte (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 an interview Sunday.
She said they were already planning to go back to the province, but when she gave birth for their third child last March 11, the lockdown was announced.
“Ang hirap ng buhay dito kaya uuwi na po kami (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.
“Sobrang laking tulong kasi ngayon walang mga sasakyan na pabalik ng mga probinsya, ngayon me libreng sakay papunta sa mga probinsya. At least sa probinsya po namin mas ligtas (this is a big help for those who have no other means to go home to the province. At least it is safer there),” she said.
Before leaving Kuwait, she was already placed under quarantine for 14 days.
Upon arrival at NAIA, they were checked and have undergone another 14 days of quarantine period.
Now, when they finally arrive in Kalinga Apayao, they will be subjected to another 14 days of home quarantine, her third one.
She said they do not have any intention to be carriers of the virus, and that they have done the required processes, including a rapid test, which is also her third test.
“Before kami nagpunta dito, meron naman kaming mga ebidensya na meron kaming medical or bago kami sumakay ng sasakyan ay natse-check naman kami (Before coming here we have evidence that we underwent medical (examination) or before boarding the bus, we were checked),” Evelyn said.
Raring to go home
Maribel Alconcel, on the other hand, is traveling with her 78-year-old mother back to Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
“After sana ng klase ng mga bata pauwi na sana kaso na-stranded. Buti na lang me programa ang gobyerno. Mula nung nag-lockdown wala nang bus, eh naiwan ang tatay ko dun sa probinsya (we were planning to go home after school ended, but we got stranded. My father was left in the province),” she said.
She expressed gratitude to the government for the Hatid Tulong program, saying a lot of stranded Filipinos in the metropolis were raring to go home since the imposition of community quarantines.
“Maraming na kasi gustong umuwi ng probinsya, kahit me pambili ng pamasahe kung wala namang mga bus, buti me ganito, malaking tulong po talaga itong programa ng gobyerno. Pagdating daw dun, i-quarantine kami. Okay lang din sa amin para mas safe ang pamilya namin dun sa probinsya. Pare-parehas naman tayong affected, hindi dapat nadi-discriminate yung galing dito sa Maynila. Pagdating naman dun, susunod naman kami sa safety protocols (Many want to go home to the province, even if they are capable to pay for the ticket, there are no modes of transportation. It’s good that there is a program like this. They said we will be under quarantine upon arrival there, that’s fine with us if that 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 said.
Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo, has also appealed for understanding from those who have negative opinion about the Hatid Tulong program.
“These are Filipinos who are in dire need of help because these Filipinos are considered to be LSIs. They do not have any intention na maging carrier ng virus and they 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 protection among themselves, so hinihiling ko po sa ating mga kababayan… dapat tanggapin natin kasi kapwa Pilipino (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, we have to help and to assist. Nasa pandemic tayo ngayon, hindi natin alam kung sino matatamaan at kailan, kaya pinaka importante dyan yung disiplina kung pano nating pangangalagaan ang ating sarili at bigyan ng proteksyon ang ating mahal sa buhay (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.
On Saturday (July 4), Encabo said they were able to send home around 3,100 LSIs.
Encabo said on Sunday (July 5) they are “expecting more than a thousand, almost two, 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.”
He said on Saturday, some 12 LSIs tested positive during the rapid test.
They were immediately isolated and brought to the CCP Complex Quarantine Facility.
“Meron kaming 12 (we have 12) and 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, they will be subject to confirmatory test pag positive po sila (if they turn out positive) they will continue the quarantine for 14 days, then upon checking again if they will be found out negative they can go home,” he said. (PNA)
Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency