President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on June 22, 2020. I Albert Alcain, Presidential Photo

On Monday, June 22, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte made a new appeal to local government units (LGUs) to take in repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as well as locally stranded individuals (LSI) returning to their respective home provinces.

“Ang pakiusap lang na tanggapin lang ‘yung mga LGUs — tanggapin nila ‘yung mga tao, pakiusap,” President Duterte said during a public address.

The President reiterated that local officials don’t have the power to deny the OFWs and LSIs of their right to return to their homes and love ones, adding that it would just create problems for them.

The presence of asymptomatic individuals to the batches of persons going home could not be a ground to restrict their return to their places of origin, he argued.

“You do not even know if he’s contaminated or not. If he’s not, then you still refuse him tapos magkaroon kahit sabi mo wala. Maloloko. You’ll run into a gamut of so many problems,” he said.

“Even if they are actually contaminated, if they want to go home maybe to get well or to die there, hindi mo ma-deny sa Pilipino ‘yan.”

In his report to the President, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they have sent home a total of 56,000 OFWs to the provinces.

The government also expects the arrival of some 40,000 OFWs from different parts of the world in two months, Lorenzana added, citing reports from the labor department.

The remains of 280 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, who died from non-COVID related illnesses, will soon arrive in the country, he said.

In the case of LSIs, thousands more are still stranded in Metro Manila awaiting their flight schedules, according to Lorenzana.

Lorenzana also advised stranded individuals in Manila not go to the airports or seaports if they don’t have flight schedules to avoid congestion at the terminals.

“Wala naman kayong matirahan sa airport at pati pagkain ay sinasagot na ng Philippine Army at saka Philippine Air Force at sila ay nahihirapan din,” he said. “So pakiusap lang po huwag kayong magpunta doon kung wala kayong siguradong masakyan.”

President Duterte also said that former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson is offering 400 buses to help the government ferry people wanting to go home.

“Nagmamagandang-loob ‘yung tao. He’s offering 400 buses at the disposal of the Task Force ‘yan,” he said.

“Kayo na ho ang mag-distribute so that maybe the target areas where they should be delivered could be as near as where the trucks would head for and park there for them to disembark,” he told officials.

The trip schedule will be on July 4 for those going to Mindanao and July 5 for workers traveling to Visayas.

Balikbayan Media Center
Balikbayan Media Center

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