Thousands of stranded persons were packed into the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila over the weekend to avoid getting sick because of afternoon downpours. The crowd has thinned and the government is looking for alternative lodging for those who are waiting for bus and boat rides back to the provinces, the official in charge said Monday.
Bringing the stranded persons inside the football stadium was the “lesser evil” as babies, pregnant women and senior citizens could easily get sick because of the rains, said Asec. Joseph Encabo from the Presidential Management Staff, who heads the Hatid Tulong Initiative.
The crowd peaked at 4,800Encabo said. The free transportation to the provinces required pre-registration. Due to word of mouth, however, not all who lined up for a ride or arrived at the stadium pre-registered, Encabo said. As of Monday, some 3,400 have left the stadium, he said.
“We have to choose between the two lesser evils here,” Encabo told DZMM. “Doon po mas vulnerable sila sa sakit, lalong-lalo na iyong mga bata, mga buntis, senior citizens at PWDs: Dahil po sa pagbagsak ng ulan, talagang kailangan naming maisilong ang mga tao (Some are vulnerable to sickness, especially children, pregnant women, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Because of the rains, we had to give them shelter)."
At one point over the weekend, a police band played to entertain the crowd. "Kahit papaano sa paghihintay natin, talagang may mga moments na mabo-bore o mapapagod ang isang tao kaya sa aming makakaya ay aliwin ang mga LSI (During the wait, there are moments when they will be bored or tired, that's why we're doing whatever we can to entertain our locally stranded individuals)," he said.
The stranded persons will undergo rapid testing before they are allowed to board a bus or boat. Those found positive will be isolated, he said.