Second batch of LSIs from Cebu safely arrived in Davao City; Bong Go reminds implementers of Hatid Probinsya initiatives to implement strict health protocols
A teary-eyed religious Sister Marietta Banayo expressed her gratitude to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) and the rest of the agencies and local government units involved after she arrived in Cagayan de Oro City port in the morning of June 7. She was stranded in Cebu City since March 20.
“I was in Cebu since February 15 since I did my 30 day-retreat. I finished the 30-day retreat on March 20 but it was already lockdown. I’m supposed to go home but until yesterday I was still in Cebu. So I am very happy I am now here in CDO,” Banayo said after disembarking from the Super Shuttle RoRo 10 which sailed from Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City.
“I’m very grateful to Senator Bong Go and to his staff, sa lahat ng team na nag-facilitate sa aming pag-uwi. Maraming salamat at nakauwi na kami. Once-in-a-lifetime experience ito para sa akin. Salamat sa nag-organize ng Hatid Probinsya program para sa aming na-stranded sa Cebu City. Napansin niyo kami noong walang pumansin sa aming mga hinaing,” she added as she was escorted to a bus that transported all locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to the Davao International Airport and arrived in the evening of the same day. DIA is the designated health screening venue for all LSIs returning to or via Davao City.
Banayo is one of the 45 LSIs who have safely arrived in Davao City and will finally be home with their loved ones. Composed of 31 students, thirteen regular individuals, and one senior citizen, the second batch of LSIs were carefully assisted by many concerned government agencies.
Before leaving Cebu, all LSIs were required to undergo a fourteen-day quarantine as a requirement for the issuance of the Barangay Health Certificate given by their respective barangays before they were all fetched from their homes through Ceres bus provided by OPAV. They were also subjected to a COVID-19 rapid test and were given medical certificates by the Department of Health. For Davao City LSIs, they were also required to have medical certificates issued by the City or Municipal Health Office from the place where they were stranded in Cebu province.
At the Davao International Airport screening area, the LSIs were again subjected to another round of COVID-19 rapid testing. Once they are IgM-Negative, which detects the IgM antibody first produced by the immune system when a virus attacks, and IgG-Negative, which detects IgG antibodies that develop within seven to ten days after symptoms of COVID-19 begin, the LSIs can go home immediately. If not, they will be subjected to another round of fourteen-day quarantine.
Some of the LSIs near CDO were already picked up by their respective LGUs at the seaport while the rest who proceeded to Davao City were also fetched by their LGUs at the airport after screening procedures and cleared to go.
“Maraming mga health screenings na iniimplementa para masiguradong walang dalang virus ang ating mga LSIs. Paalala lang po sa mga nag-iimplementa ng Hatid Probinsya initiatives na siguraduhin na bawat Pilipinong tinutulungan natin ay hindi magiging dahilan ng lalong pagkalat ng sakit,” Go said.
Go emphasized that most of the LSIs were stranded already for over two months after the Cebu provincial government implemented a strict lockdown as a way of containing the spread of COVID-19 in the island province.
One of the LSIs who just planned to transit in Cebu yet was caught up with the Cebu’s lockdown is Cherry Zen Castillo. Castillo said that she arrived in Cebu on March 17 after visiting her sister in Singapore. When she arrived, Cebu already imposed the lockdown, leaving her stranded in the city.
“Na-stranded ako sa Cebu city last March 17 after I came from Singapore to visit my sister. And after I arrived in Cebu, na-cancel ang aking domestic flight to Davao City. After that, na-stranded na ako sa Cebu,” she said.
“Nagpasalamat ako kay Senator Bong Go at sa lahat ng tumulong sa amin kasi sa pamamagitan ng Hatid Probinsya program, ibinigay sa aming mga na-stranded sa Cebu City na makauwi,” Castillo added.
Go commended everyone who is part of the government’s initiative to help LSIs. Other than his office and OPAV, different agencies also played critical roles in facilitating the safe and convenient transport of LSIs from Cebu to Mindanao. These include the DOH, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Maritime Industry Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, and Office of Civil Defense.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng ahensyang tumulong dito sa ating mga LSIs. Malaking luwag ng kalooban ito para sa kanila na makakauwi sila sa kanilang mga mahal sa buhay,” Go said.
All LSIs were given food packs and packed meals. The vessel crew members were also given food for the whole trip. OPAV provided personal protective equipment to the vessel crew who assisted the LSIs on board.
The Senator said that the Hatid Probinsya initiative must be continuously implemented with proper coordination between national agencies and concerned LGUs so that health protocols will be followed as long as there are still many Filipinos who are locally stranded in other cities and are in need of assistance to return home.
Go also clarified that this program is different from the Balik Probinsya Balik Pag-asa Program (BP2) which is designed for residents of Metro Manila who wish to relocate to the provinces and start anew.
“Kaya natin ito ginagawa para matulungan at mabigyan ang maraming Pilipinong LSIs ng pagkakataong makauwi. Siguraduhin dapat, lalo na ngayon sa ating Hatid Probinsya program, na cleared ang mga LSIs mula sa COVID-19. May testing at quarantine bago umalis sa lugar kung saan sila stranded at another round of health screening once they arrive,” Go, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Health, emphasized.