Several stranded persons remain in the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and authorities are seeking an exemption from the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila so they can return to their home provinces, the Malacañang official in charge of the effort said on Tuesday.
The goal is to bring to so-called locally stranded individuals or LSIs home in two weeks, said Asec. Joseph Encabo from the Presidential Management Staff, who serves as lead convenor of the Hatid Tulong Initiative. Under the MECQ, which will last until Aug. 18, buses, trains, and jeepneys, along with inter-province travel are prohibited.
“At kung mai-grant po yung exemption, agad-agad ay gagawan po namin ng schedule at i-fafacilitate yung transportation na gagamitin para sa kanila (If the exemption is granted, we will schedule it right away and facilitate the transportation),” he said
Last July, the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex saw a crowd of about 8,000 eager to go home to their provinces. It was not supposed to be the receiving area for stranded persons, but many stuck in Metro Manila flocked there thinking it was, Encabo said.
Some 20 sranded persons were turned away late Monday after the last batch of stranded persons was transported last Thursday. Encabo said the Philippine Coast Guard searched for them this morning and they were given temporary shelter.
As much as the initiative would like to bring these individuals back home, Encabo said the government has limited transportation assets. Boats, ships, and buses that ferried the first two batches are only returning now and must be disinfected and undergo maintenance before use. Drivers and boat staff who assisted in the travels must also be quarantined for 14 days. Some provinces still have closed borders, which means some have to stay in Metro Manila.
“Ang kanilang probinsya po ay nag-decalre nang moratorium. Hindi po sila pinayagang makapasok. (Their provinces declared moratorium. They are now allowed to enter.),” Encabo said. If authorities tried to transport the remaining stranded persons right away, it could put them at risk for infection, he said.
The stranded persons are currently staying at temporary shelters and will undergo rapid testing before being allowed to board boats or buses headed for their province. Encabo said the Office of the President would give assistance in providing meals.