Duterte to DILG: Provide billeting, food to all stranded individuals
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to gather all locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and provide them with billeting and food while they wait for their ride home.
In a speech taped for airing late Tuesday, Duterte said he would pay for the cost of the billeting and food of the LSIs.
“You will be transported to a place. I will just pay the bill, including the food,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“Just look for an eatery so that the Budget Department would not complain. Don’t eat expensive food, because it’s not the time for that. We are in a crisis, let us keep our senses close to the ground,” he added.
Local officials raised the alarm after recent cases of COVID-19 in the Visayas were linked to returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and residents stranded elsewhere.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier admitted in that the government had been caught off-guard by the returning residents and had been unable to prepare for them, unlike in the case of repatriated OFWs.
The government had suspended the transit of stranded individuals in at least five places in the Visayas and Mindanao to address the concerns of local officials about the spread of COVID-19 in their provinces.
But the Department of Health maintained that the return of stranded individuals to their home provinces couldn’t be blamed solely for the spike of COVID-19 cases in the countryside as there were other factors to consider.
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