HOME BY BATCHES. The buses that brought locally stranded individuals and returning overseas Filipinos in the Soccsksargen region on Wednesday and Thursday (July 9, 2020) arrived at the provincial hospital compound in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. The residents underwent rapid tests for coronavirus disease 2019 before allowed to proceed to their home provinces by respective Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19 personnel. (Photo courtesy of Sultan Kudarat Governor Suharto Mangudadatu)
COTABATO CITY – Close to 600 locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) brought by buses to Region 12 (Soccsksargen) the past two days through the government’s “Hatid Tulong” program have arrived in their respective municipalities, officials said Friday.
Mary Ann Lucero, regional team leader of the Presidential Management Staff in the Soccsksargen region, said the last of the 30 buses that brought home the LSIs and ROFs arrived at the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Capitol grounds past 10 a.m. Wednesday.
On Thursday, the LSIs and ROFs, who all came from Metro Manila, have been subjected to health protocols and rapid tests by the Regional Inter-Agency Task (IATF) Force on coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and allowed to return to their respective provinces.
Sultan Kudarat Governor Suharto Mangudadatu said all the returning residents were fetched by their respective IATF personnel and brought to isolation centers in their provinces.
“All of them have been turned over to their local government units (LGUs) under the strict supervision of health front-liners,” the governor said.
Before they were sent to their destination, each LSI and ROF was provided with financial aid from Mangudadatu through the Sultan Kudarat IATF.
The LSIs and ROFs were transported by buses to the Soccsksargen through the “Hatid Tulong” initiative, a government’s transport assistance for people locked down in the capital.
Beneficiaries of the program are workers, ROFs, students, and even tourists stranded by recent Covid-19 lockdowns in Metro Manila.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Soccsksargen said LSIs for Maguindanao, a province component of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, were part of the returning group.
It said of the 591 LSIs and ROFs, 181 were sent to General Santos City, 105 to Sarangani, 78 to Sultan Kudarat, 77 to South Cotabato, 69 to Cotabato Province, 35 to Cotabato City and 46 to Maguindanao.
In Tacurong City, the local IATF headed by Mayor Angelo Montilla has decided not to allow the LSIs and ROFs to return home and subject them to home quarantine.
“Whether positive or negative in the rapid test, all LSIs and ROFs are required to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine at the LGU’s designated quarantine facilities,” Montilla said.
“We should not compromise our families and our people, that is why our decision is no home quarantine and all returning Tacurongnons must be isolated first (at quarantine facilities),” he added. (PNA)
Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency