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Around 5K more LSIs seek gov’t help to return to provinces — official

/ 04:18 PM August 03, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Around 5,000 additional locally stranded individuals (LSIs) are seeking help from the government to be transported back to their respective home provinces as cases of the coronavirus disease continue to increase.

“Based on our list, aside from the text messages, we still have around 5,000 LSIs,” Hatid Tulong program lead convenor and Presidential Management Staff Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo said during the meeting of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on Monday when asked how many LSIs are still seeking help from the government to be ferried to their home regions.

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Encabo also said the “Hatid Tulong” program management eyes a “pocket send-off” for the LSIs, after thousands of stranded individuals flocked to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila as they await government-sponsored trips.

The setup at the venue earlier drew public criticism over apparent lack of physical distancing, which is one of the minimum health protocols being imposed by the government to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Forty-eight of the LSIs later tested positive in rapid antibody tests and are still awaiting the results of their confirmatory swab tests.

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“I agree with your suggestion and recommendation na by regional and province para kung ano yung required number ng province, magmimeet kami halfway. And mas maganda ‘yung venue, mas ma-o-organize namin nang mas maayos at ma-o-observe strictly ang social distancing,” Encabo told the committee.

(I agree with your suggestion that the program will be implemented according to the LSI’s regions and provinces, so that ours and the requirements of the concerned province can meet halfway. We will also have a better venue where we can organize the people and where they can strictly observe social distancing.)

However, Encabo explained that “a snapshot of the crowd at the baseball stadium does not tell the entire story at all.” He said there were “missing frames” in the photos, adding that the LSIs had to be accommodated at the stadium to protect them from rain and intense heat while waiting in the queue.

He also said he cannot assure that all the LSIs can be sent back home by the end of August, citing weather conditions as a possible setback.

“One of the primary objectives of the technical working group is to send back home these LSIs safe and sound,” said Encabo.

On July 30, the official said more than 6,500 LSIs who flocked to the sports complex have been sent home.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Department of Health, hatid tulong program, Joseph Encabo, locally stranded individuals, Red Cross
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