Malacañang on Tuesday said that the transportation of locally stranded individuals from Metro Manila to the provinces is unexpected and that the government was not able to prepare for it.
“Iyong mga locally stranded individuals po kasi, ito po ay something na bigla na lang nangyari, di po gaya ng [pagdating ng] OFWs na napaghandaan natin,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over Unang Hirit.
(In the case of locally stranded individuals, it just happened, unlike for the OFWs that we were able to prepare for them.)
“Siyempre po, iyong Balik Probinsiya, iba pa ‘yun [the Balik Probinsiya is different],” he added.
The Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pagasa spearheaded by Senator Bong Go, gives cash assistance to families living in Metro Manila who want to return to their provinces and earn a living there. Those who would join the project are not required to undergo a COVID-19 test.
Last week, the government put the dispatch system of the Balik Probinsya program on hold to prioritize stranded individuals and OFWs who want to return to their home provinces.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. reported earlier that the recent number of COVID-19 cases in Region 8 and Lanao are from locally stranded individuals. He said 66 new cases in Region 8 were LSIs.
“Pagdating po doon ay tinest po sila dahil po ‘yung Region 8 meron na po tayong dalawang testing center do’n, tinest po sila ng polymerase chain reaction machine, at mayroon po silang nakuha na 66,” he said in a televised briefing.
(They were tested in the two testing centers in Region 8. They were tested using polymerase chain reaction machine and 66 tested positive.)
“Gano’n din po ang nangyari sa Lanao, dahil din sa LSIs ay nagkaroon po sila ng new cases na 30,” he added.
(The same thing happened in Lanao, their cases reached 30 because of LSIs.)
“Sinisikap po natin ngayon na lahat ng locally stranded individuals ay mabigyan ng RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) o ng rapid test bago pauwiin para hindi po sila maging potensiyal na makapanghawa ng sakit,” Roque said.
(We are trying to give all locally stranded individuals an RT-PCR or rapid test before they go home so they would not be able to transmit the virus.)