‘Hatid Probinsya program facilitated return of 2 coronavirus-positive residents in Leyte’
MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday clarified that the two returning residents in Leyte who tested positive for the new coronavirus had availed of the government’s Hatid Probinsya program, as opposed to the Balik Probinsya program, a relocation initiative.
“They are part of the Hatid Probinsya,” Año said of the two COVID-19 infected Leyte residents during an interview over ANC.
On Thursday, the health department office in Eastern Visayas announced that the two residents returned to Leyte through the Balik Probinsya program.
But Año said there was a confusion, noting that Hatid Probinsya is different from Balik Probinsya program, which is a long-term government program which offered benefits.
Hatid Probinsya is a program that facilitates the return of stranded individuals to their respective home provinces during the COVID-19 pandemic, while Balik Probinsya gives incentives and livelihood to Filipinos who wish to be permanently settled in provinces after the enhanced community quarantine measures are lifted.
“There is a sort of mix-up or confusion, what we are doing now is Hatid Probinsya, Hatid Estudyante, Hatid Manggagawa,” he said.
“It is not really a part of Balik Probinsya because Balik Probinsya is a program of the government wherein we intend to bring home families or even workers whose families are in provinces and they will settle permanently and they will provide assistance, livelihood even providing them their own land still,” Año added.
Año also said Balik Probinsya is not “a measure designed during the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, he admitted that returning individuals could be at risk for infection but said they laid out health protocols for local government units (LGUs) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their areas.
“There is no 100 percent guarantee that a person will be COVID-free so habang nagbabiyahe ‘yan pwedeng mahawaan yan (While the person is traveling they can be infected). That’s why we have protocols and upon arrival in the destination of receiving LGUs, they should undergo another quarantine. If their house is bigger, it can be a home quarantine. If not, then a barangay isolation may suffice. If may symptoms, then the person can be subjected to testing,” he said.
Senator Bong Go proposed the Balik Probinsya program in April after workers, who needed to return to their hometowns, were trapped in Metro Manila due to the quarantine period.
The Gabriela party-list warned that the Balik Probinsya may translate to more health care and economic problems, citing the recent infections of two returnees in Leyte who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
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