Several locally stranded individuals fill-up required forms as they would be returning to their home provinces courtesy of the government’s Hatid Tulong Initiative. (Contributed photo)
MANILA – Hatid Tulong Initiative (HTI) resumes its pocket send-off after Metro Manila was placed under general community quarantine (GCQ).
Travel documents complying with Inter-Agency Task Force guidelines were processed on Aug. 19, 2020, a day before the send-off of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) bound for Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
LSIs were medically assessed by the Department of Health and rapid testing requested by receiving local government units were also conducted.
The Philippine National Police provided travel authorities to LSIs while the Department of Social Welfare and Development gave an allowance of PHP2,000 under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) to LSIs who were qualified to travel.
HTI lead convenor Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo said the HTI will continue assisting LSIs and facilitate their return to their provinces.
“We still have LSIs that need help so they can go home to their provinces. HTI is committed to arrange their travel. Gobyerno po ang sasagot ng gastos para makauwi ang mga LSIs. Malaking tulong din po ang (The government will should the cost for LSIs to return home. It is also a big help from the) private sector participation,” Encabo said.
For its first send-off, after the modified enhanced community quarantine ended, HTI facilitated trips, making use of the Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and 2go vessels. RRCG bus company provided buses for LSIs bound for Regions 8 (Eastern Visayas) and 11 (Davao).
“Almost 400 LSIs availed of the transportation facilitated by HTI. The pocket send-off was arranged for LSIs also bound for Region 8, Region 11, Palawan and Surigao,” Encabo said.
The resumption of Hatid Tulong primarily catered to the LSIs who were not able to travel during the grand send-off due to their provinces being under moratoriums.
These LSIs were given temporary billeting in housing facilities maintained by Hatid Tulong TWG with the help of the private sector.
Some 36 LSIs camping outside the Libingan ng mga Bayani were also assisted by HTI. Those whose destinations are still being arranged were transferred to the CCP facility.
“HTI through the Presidential Management Staff Regional Field Units and DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) coordinate with receiving local government units before scheduling trips of LSIs to ensure the readiness of LGUs to accept their kababayans,” Encabo added.
The HTI is the first phase of the Balik Probinsya Program to address the immediate need of individuals and families to go home to their province amid the effect of the coronavirus pandemic to the economy.
Trips for Dumaguete, Negros, Panay Island are currently being arranged to assist LSIs bound for the Visayas. Philippine National Railways trips for LSIs are also scheduled this month. (PR)