Palace said the government would review and create new policies for the “Hatid Probinsya” program, which transport locally stranded individuals to provinces after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases rise in the Visayas region.
Fourteen representatives from the Eastern Visayas earlier urged the government to revisit the “Hatid Probinsya” program, citing the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the region shortly after the project started.
It was the administration’s duty to ensure that the locally stranded are free from the coronavirus infection and other diseases before they are allowed entry of their communities in Eastern Visayas, the lawmakers added.
“For now, we are reviewing, and we are forming a policy on locally stranded individuals because our existing protocols are for returning (overseas Filipino workers) and overseas Filipinos,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told state-run television station PTV last Saturday.
“The (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) discussed this (on Friday). They agreed that upon the arrival of the (polymerase chain reaction) testing kits we ordered, we can subject the locally stranded individuals who are about to go home to PCR testing, and we will form a concrete policy and protocol when it comes to locally stranded individuals,” he added.
The government earlier suspends the implementation of “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa” program, which aims to achieve a “balanced regional development” to give way to the “Hatid Probinsya” project.
The government has transported home more than 30,000 locally stranded individuals and about 54,000 OFWs.
“We appeal for some patience. We are paying taxes, and we will know how much is in the national coffers, and we can determine how much more we can spend for COVID-19,” he added.
Just today, the strategic sealift ship BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) of the Philippine Navy brings home 450 locally stranded individuals to the Visayas.
“Prior to boarding LD-602, these LSIs underwent strict medical screening and Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) rapid testing on June 21 in Pasay City, in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Health Service Command (AFPHSC) and assisted by the Chief Surgeon Navy personnel,” PN public affairs office chief Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas said.