Instead of grand send-offs for locally stranded individuals (LSIs) who are returning to their home provinces, a clustered send-off will be organized, “Hatid Tulong” program lead convenor Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo said on August 3, 2020.
Encabo said the Technical Working Group has worked out this new approach to ensure the safety and health of individuals and families who wish to go home.
“Magkakaroon po ng panibagong approach at paghahanda dahil ang susunod na mga send-off na lang po o clustered send-offs, hindi na po tayo magkakaroon ng grand send-off para po maiwasan natin ang issue ng social distancing (There will be a new approach and new preparations. We will only hold clustered send-offs. There will no longer be any grand send-off to avoid the issue on social distancing),” he said during the Network Briefing News hosted by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar.
The initiative has been able to send home 6,583 individuals.
Encabo assured the public that they would be more organized and careful in the upcoming send-offs to ensure that local government units (LGUs) and LSIs are properly coordinated, as well as contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infection.
“Mas magiging komprehensibo, maingat, at maayos ang ating mga susunod na mga send-off sa darating na linggo (The send-off in the coming weeks will be more comprehensive, careful, and organized),” he said.
With the declaration of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila, Encabo said this would pose a challenge for them.
Aside from LSIs, the group is also expecting to accommodate the arrival of more returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
The “Hatid Tulong” is seeking the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to spare the LSIs and ROFs from the travel restrictions.
“Dahil po sa deklarasyon ng MECQ, ang ‘Hatid Tulong’ Initative Technical Working Group ay susulat sa IATF upang magkaroon po ng exemption sa status na yan kasi nga po kapag hindi natin aasikasuhin sa loob ng dalawang linggo ay talagang magkakaroon ng matagal na pag-aantay at mas magiging vulnerable at magiging psychologically disturbed ang ating mga LSIs (Because of the declaration of MECQ, the ‘Hatid Tulong’ Initiative Technical Working Group will write to the IATF to request an exemption on their status because if we fail to process this in two weeks, there would be prolonged waiting on the part of the LSIs. They would also be more vulnerable and they might become psychologically disturbed),” Encabo said, noting that the LSIs have waited so long to be united with their families.
Their request is expected to be sent to the IATF-EID by August 5.
“Assuming na mai-grant kami, we are expected na mayroon kaming nakasalang na 500 plus LSIs na pauuwiin namin. Pero pag hindi kami maaprubahan, talagang mag-aantay po yung LSIs doon sa mga staging areas o temporary shelter areas natin (Assuming that our request would be granted, we are expecting to send home more than 500 LSIs. But if not, then our LSIs would have to wait in our staging areas or temporary shelter areas),” he added.
Meanwhile, Andanar expressed his support for this request, saying he would help bring up this concern to the IATF-EID.
“You have my support, Asec Joy Encabo. Ipaparating ko yan sa IATF (We will bring this matter to the IATF),” he said.