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Bong Go: show compassion to LSIs through Hatid Tulong Initiative

July 28, 2020 - Tuesday 11:07 AM by MDM

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In an interview after the opening of the second regular session of the 18th Congress this Monday, Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged concerned agencies implementing the Hatid Tulong initiative to provide all possible forms of assistance needed by locally stranded individuals to help them cope with their current situation and ensure their protection from the COVID-19 disease.

"National government initiative po 'yan, headed by different government agencies. DILG, DOT, DOTr, even Coast Guard po ay nandun and even the Armed Forces, DND. Directive po 'yan ng Pangulo na tulungan silang makauwi," Go said.

"Ako naman as a legislator, I'm urging government to strictly follow protocols. Sundin niyo po ang health protocols at social distancing. Ang nabalitaan ko lang po sa nakaraang araw, umulan po at wala silang masisilungan. Kesa naman po palabuy-laboy sila sa kalye at wala silang mapupuntahan, tulungan na lang po natin sila. Pakainin natin, bigyan natin ng tulong hanggang makauwi po sila. I'm urging the national government to strictly enforce itong health protocols, social distancing,” he added. 

Go urged officials and the general public to show compassion and understanding as these LSIs have nowhere else to go and are desperate to return back to their provinces given the adverse impact the pandemic has caused on their lives. 

"Ako mismo po, tumutulong po ako sa kanila. Nagbibigay po kami ng masks, mga pagkain din po doon sa kanila. Kawawa naman po ang mga Pilipino,” he said as he urged implementers to also prioritize the health and safety of LSIs by observing necessary protocols needed to avoid the spread of the virus. 

“Kaysa naman batikusin pa natin ang organizers at hayaan lang natin na palabuy-laboy diyan sa kalye (ang LSIs) at naghihintay diyan sa labas ng pier, nasa sidewalk at nauulanan, tulungan na lang po natin silang makauwi sa kanilang mga probinsya sa ligtas na paraan. Sundin pa rin palagi ang mga health and safety protocols. Magmalasakit tayo at huwag natin silang pabayaan," he said. 

Meanwhile, amid reports on a sizeable number of stranded Filipinos crammed at the Rizal Memorial baseball stadium in Manila, awaiting transportation to their home provinces, Presidential Management Staff and Hatid Tulong initiative convener Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo explained that they were let inside the stadium to take shelter instead of leaving them to loiter on the streets under the heat of the sun or get soaked in the rain.

"Sila po ay nasa kalsada. Sila ay inuulan po araw o gabi at nakakaranas po ng matinding init habang sila ay naghihintay," Encabo said in a radio interview on Monday, July 27, adding that many of the LSIs came to the stadium before their scheduled transfer. 

"Lahat po ng mga LSIs na pre-registered ng Technical Working Group ng Hatid Tulong ay nakatanggap po ng advice na dumating po sa takdang araw ng kanilang pagbiyahe, ngunit po hindi natin maiiwasan na pagdagsa ng mga LSIs before their travel period kaya po habang aming ino-obserbahan at nakikita namin ang kahirapan ng ating kababayan sa kalsada ay sa aming awa at pag intindi ay kailangan din namin silang asikasuhain, arugain," he added.

Encabo noted that some of the LSIs waiting to get inside the stadium included children, pregnant women, senior citizens and persons with disability, prompting the authorities to let them enter.

"Nakalapat po ang ating plano, ang social distancing process para pagpasok nila ay maayos po ang kanilang proseso. Ngunit nung inabutan po kami ng ulan ay hindi po maiwasan na nagsi-dagsaan at nagkukumpol-kumpol ang mga tao at agad po natin pinapasok," Encabo explained.

As of July 27, Encabo said that 126,000 LSIs have already been transported back to their home provinces. Encabo, however, lamented that the number of LSIs have accumulated because some local government units have strict requirements before allowing their entry while some would not accept them at all.

Go has also earlier said that the Hatid Probinsya initiative must be implemented in compliance with necessary health and safety protocols and with proper coordination between national agencies and concerned LGUs to ensure the safety of travelers and their communities. 

“Nais ko ipaalala sa lahat na hindi natin pwedeng ipagkait ang karapatan ng mga Pilipino na makauwi sa sarili nilang bayan. This is why I am urging the government na unahin nila ang health protocols na dapat ligtas po ang lahat ng bumibiyahe, at willing at handa po ang mga LGUs na tanggapin sila," Go explained.

The Senator echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier remarks that LGUs must be ready to accept returning residents and ensure that they will be assisted upon their arrival to their provinces.

“Sabi rin mismo ni Pangulong Duterte, ‘mga Pilipino ito, mga kababayan natin. Tanggapin ninyo. Whatever you need, we will provide. Kawawa naman. Tulungan ninyo ang mga Pilipino’,” Go said.

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