'Colorum' transportation of stranded Filipinos blamed for rise of COVID-19 cases

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2020 01:24 PM

'Colorum' transportation of stranded Filipinos blamed for rise of COVID-19 cases 1
Stranded travelers wait at an island beneath the NAIA Expressway, just outside the NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City on June 10, 2020. They have since been moved to a shelter at a military camp in Pasay City. Hundreds of passengers, mostly OFWs wishing to go home to their provinces, remain stranded due to travel restrictions implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The unsupervised transportation of stranded Filipinos to their home provinces caused the increase of COVID-19 cases in parts of the Philippines, a government official said Monday.

Some stranded Filipinos are transported by "colorum" vehicles without undergoing coordination with the national government as well as the receiving local government unit, said Joseph Encabo, who heads the "Hatid Tulong" program.

"Dapat po matigil na po yan kasi naniniwala po ako na ang mga colorum activities na yan ay ang main na rason or dahilan kung bakit tumataas ang COVID cases sa isang lugar," Encabo said in a virtual press briefing.

(That should stop because we believe that colorum activities are the main reason why COVID cases increase in a certain area.)

Encabo claimed that among those transported were stranded Filipinos with expired travel authority, old rapid antibody test results, and those who did not undergo any test at all. Some are transported using vans, he said.

"Kailangan po namin ang mahigpit na monitoring ng PNP (Philippine National Police), lalo na ang colorum transportation ng mga LSIs (locally stranded individuals) ay hindi nag-undergo ng rapid test at hindi dumaan sa tamang proseso," he said.

(We need the strict monitoring of the PNP for the colorum transportation of LSIs who did not undergo rapid test and did not undergo the proper process.)

Some local government officials have expressed worries over the homecoming of stranded individuals due to the threat of COVID-19, as most cases have been reported in Metro Manila.

Encabo, however, clarified to local government units that the "Hatid Tulong" program would coordinate with receiving provinces prior to the transportation of stranded Filipinos.

"We inform the LGUs na ganito karami ang papasok, ito ang mga resulta, at lahat ay may sapat na dokumento," he said.

Malacañang on Monday said 62,762 stranded Filipinos were sent home to their provinces as of July 2.

Some 13,000 more are still awaiting transportation, Encabo said.