MANILA - The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is arranging mass travel to bring passengers stranded due to the lockdown against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) back to their home provinces in Region 8.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the Philippine government will charter ships to bring locally stranded individuals in Metro Manila back to the provinces.
"Ipunin na lang muna natin at ibubulto na lang ang paghatid sa kanila after nitong suspension. More or less, gagamit tayo malaking barko para isang hatiran at coordinated naman sa ating mga LGUs at handa sila sa pagtanggap,” Año said in a TeleRadyo interview.
Año said local chief executives in Eastern Visayas have decided to suspend accepting returning stranded residents because their quarantine facilities could no longer accommodate them.
“Ang kailangan natin dito pagsambot ng LSI may kalalagyan din isolation facilities,” he said.
The DILG chief also discouraged stranded passengers from going to the airport or seaports without a confirmed travel date.
“Malalagay lang kayo sa inconvenience na kalagayan. At the same time, marami rin tayong napeperwisyong mga kababayan samantalang meron naman tayong action numbers at lahat naman kayo ay inililista natin at aabisuhin din kayo kung merong biyahe,” he said.
Authorities are arranging mass transport on July 4 involving around 400 buses that were offered by Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Chavit Singson, and will be complemented by ships.
“Malakihang hatiran ito,” he said. However, those bound for Region 8 won’t be accommodated on this trip as the ban on stranded residents is until July 9.
“Hindi sila makakasama dito, gagawa na lang tayo ng ibang biyahe sa Region 8,” he said.
The Department of Health has identified Cebu island and parts of Eastern Visayas as new hotspots of the COVID-19 outbreak as cases of the disease continued to rise in these areas.
“As of this morning tatlo ang deaths natin. Isa sa Biliran, isang LSI galing Manila; isa namang LSI din from Cebu na nasa Leyte; at isang residente ng Samar,” said Año.
Aside from the deaths, there are now also 467 active cases in the region, including 16 new ones reported on Thursday.
Año said those who continue to violate the protocols, including the 14-day quarantine, contribute to the spike in virus cases.
“Ang problem natin yung tinatawag nating guerilla, mga lumusot. pagkuha niya ng medical certificate at travel pass ay hindi na siya makikipag-coordinate sa pamahalaan kung papaano pupunta doon. Sasakay sa mga cargo trucks at ships babayaran ang crew para pasakayin siya, pagdating sa lugar hindi na magche-check in sa LGU, uuwi na siya. Doon nagsimula ang pag spike,” he explained.
He cited as example the case of Ormoc City where majority of the positive cases were from stranded individuals who arrived from Cebu City on board cargo ships.
“Maghihigpit din kami sa mga cargo ships. Huwag kayong magsasakay ng hindi naman talaga kasama sa manifesto niyo kasi mananagot kayo,” he said.