MANILA - The government will help all stranded Filipinos in Metro Manila return to their hometowns, Malacañang said Thursday following the death of a woman in Pasay City who waited but failed to catch a ride back to her home in Bicol.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said stranded Filipinos in Metro Manila will be assisted by the National Task Force on COVID-19 and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Michelle Silvertino, 33, reportedly waited for five days for a bus ride to her home province of Camarines Sur until she fell unconscious on a Pasay City footbridge.
She died in a hospital on June 5. According to a friend, she has some sort of a lung disease, but her death certificate indicated COVID-19 is the probable cause of death.
Silvertino worked as a household help in Antipolo City until the end of May after her supposed health condition prevented her from leaving for Saudi Arabia where she intended to work as a domestic helper.
"Ang DSWD ngayon ay nagkakalat na ng mga tao at ang NTF ng mga tao diyan sa area na nakapaligid sa mga istasyon ng bus, at sa airport, naghahanap ngayon ng mga stranded nang maiwasan na po itong trahedyang ito. Nakakalungkot po talaga," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
(The DSWD and NTF deployed their staff to look for stranded individuals to avoid tragedies like this. It's really sad.)
"So, bagama’t nakakalungkot po iyong pangyayari, at least namulat ang ating mga mata na dapat bigyan ng atensiyon iyong mga stranded na ating mga kababayan habang wala pa talagang provincial buses na pinapayagang umalis galing sa Maynila," he added.
(Even though the incident is saddening, at least it opened our eyes to give attention to our stranded countrymen while provincial buses are still barred from traveling out of Manila.)
The NTF and Department of Transportation is already working to provide temporary shelter to stranded individuals at the Villamor Airbase, Roque said.
Malacañang advised stranded individuals to reach out to the nearest DSWD office so they can secure aid until they are able to return home.
"Unang-una, makipag-ugnayan po kayo sa pinakamalapit na opisina ng DSWD para naman hindi kayo magutom, dahil kahit papano, mabibigyan kayo ng ayuda, pang-araw-araw na pagkain pa lamang, kung hindi, iyong lugar na matitirhan," he said.
(Reach out to the nearest DSWD office so that you won't go hungry, so that you can have food, if not, shelter.)
Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine, which restricted public transportation, among others, beginning mid-March to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).