Stranded Pinoys told to coordinate with LGUs on trips as hundreds camp out on streets

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2020 12:45 PM

Heidi Estorque, 40, a former OFW, struggles to survive with her month-old baby as they spend their fourth day outside the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, Sept. 3, 2020. George Calvelo

MANILA— Stranded Filipinos should coordinate with local government units in their respective hometowns if seeking to avail of government-sponsored return trips to the provinces, an official said Friday after hundreds camped out in the streets of Taguig City in the hopes that they could go home.

Some 430 individuals have been staying outside the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Taguig City, seeking free transport to the provinces under the government's "Hatid Tulong" program, said its head Joseph Encabo.

"Hindi po natin sila maiuwi ng sabay-sabay kaya nananawagan kami na kung pupuwede sana, sundin ang proseso ng Hatid Tulong initiative. Makipag-ugnayan muna sa kanilang local government unit," Encabo said in a virtual press briefing.

(We cannot send all of them home at the same time. That's why we're appealing to them to follow the process of the Hatid Tulong Initiative. Coordinate with your local government units first.)

Encabo said the Hatid Tulong program has already coordinated with the local governments of Taguig and Pasay on possible temporary shelters for those who have been staying outside the Heroes' cemetery.

"Patuloy po kaming nagko-conduct ng profiling," he added.

(We continuously conduct profiling.)

So far, Encabo said local government units in Bicol, Palawan, Romblon, Negros Oriental, Dumaguete, Caraga Region, Cotabato province, parts of Soccsksargen, Jolo, and Tawi-Tawi have expressed readiness to accept stranded Filipinos from Luzon.

Hundreds of Filipinos were left stranded in different parts of the Philippines in March when the government suddenly placed the entire island of Luzon under lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Some LGUs had earlier expressed hesitation taking in stranded passengers from Metro Manila, as local cases in other parts of the country had come from returnees from the capital region, epicenter of the virus outbreak in the country.