Govt's 'Hatid Tulong' sends home thousands of LSIs

CLOSE to 5,000 locally stranded individuals (LSIs) have already been sent home to their respective provinces under the government’s “Hatid Tulong” program while some 2,000 more are scheduled this week.

Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Ano said that a total of 4,793 LSIs were finally reunited with their families after being stranded in the metropolis due to the pandemic.

The latest home returnees were given the green light to travel under the second phase of the program after they passed the required COVID-19 tests.  

According to Ano, the papers of 2,000 others set to be booked next are still to be processed depending on the result of their health exams.

Most of them are walk-ins who trooped to the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila hoping to catch a ride back home.

Of the 4,793 LSIs, 35 are bound for Region I; 106 for Region II; 11 for MIMAROPA; 149 for Region V; 623 for Region VI; 325 to Region VII; 696 to Region VIII; 56 to Region X; 517 to Region XI; 724 to Region XII; 1,512 to Region XIII; and 39 to CAR.

The remaining 2,000 are bound for Zamboanga, Butuan, and Davao.

“Hindi natin sila basta-basta pinapauwi sa kani-kanilang mga probinsiya. Pinapascreen muna natin sila sa mga doktor mula sa DOH at PCG at sumasailalim sila sa rapid test bago sila sumasakay sa mga bus and barko,” the DILG chief said.

He said that those who got positive results were brought to an isolation facility for medical treatment.

Those who tested negative were issued travel authority in compliance with DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-085 on the management of LSIs.

Before boarding, the LSIs were provided additional aid such as food packages and financial assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Agriculture (DA).

The LSIs were transported to their home provinces via 70 buses given by the League of Municipalities, three Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels, two 2Go vessels, and Philippine National railway (PNR) trains.

Meanwhile, the list of LSIs on-board were endorsed to the DILG Regional offices concerned for proper monitoring and tracking at their LGUs of destinations.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno pati na ang mga LGUs at ang private sector sa pakikiisa na ipinakita nila sa Hatid Tulong Program at sa kanilang malasakit para sa ating mga kababayang na-stranded dahil sa pandemic,”  he said.

The DILG chief however said that LSIs who were not pre-registered but flocked to the stadium could not immediately get accommodations because of existing moratorium in their LGU destinations.

“They were transported to a temporary shelter in a housing project of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan onboard four (4) buses. Hindi natin sila pinabayaan,” he said.

Meanwhile, DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that the second phase of Hatid Tulong was more challenging because of the huge influx of people over the weekend and the unexpected number of walk-in applicants.

“They came in droves many days before the send-off because they all wanted to avail of the free ride back to their home provinces and many did not pre-register.  The important thing is we did not leave them on the streets to fend for themselves.  We had to make the best of a difficult thing and accommodated them inside the Rizal stadium, making our best effort to ensure that they observe minimum health protocols,” he said.