‘Tulong Kapatid’: Stranded Filipinos in port area receive aid as they await homecoming

July 20, 2020 - 8:04 PM
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This July 2020 photo shows locally stranded individuals (LSIs), currently staying at the Philippine Ports Authority in Manila. (PLDT-Smart Foundation/Released)

Locally stranded individuals (LSIs), currently staying at the Philippine Ports Authority in Manila recently received assistance from some non-profit organizations as they await their homecoming.

Social outreach arm of PLDT, Inc. and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc the PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) as well as the social development arm of TV5 Alagang Kapatid Foundation, Inc. (AKFI) visited the LSIs to provide them comfort and nourishment.

More than 200 LSIs are patiently waiting at the port area for their return to their homes in Basilan, Jolo, Sulu, Cagayan De Oro, Butuan City, Iloilo, Bacolod, and Cebu.

“Though they are sad and distressed at having to wait for days and weeks in less than ideal conditions, well-meaning people who call on them to see how they’re doing, and the prospect of getting home eventually, lift their spirits,” PSF President Ma. Esther Santos said.

During their visit, the personnel of PSF and AKFI shared basic information with the LSIs on standard health protocols – like wearing of facial masks, social distancing, and good hygiene – to be observed given the COVID-19 pandemic in our midst.

The LSIs were also provided snack packs and raincoats.

AKFI Executive Director Menchie Silvestre said they also listened to the LSIs’ heart-rending stories.

Last week, the same non-profit organizations also reached out to 800 LSIs staying at the at the Philippine Army Gym in Bayani Road, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. They distributed hot meals to them.

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LSIs include local workers, students, and other individuals stranded in Manila and nearby areas – most of them enduring the devastating economic effects of the quarantine restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic – who have expressed their intention to go back to their original residence.

“There was a couple who got fired from their jobs and were evicted from their rented room in Laguna. They had no other recourse but to avail of the government’s Balik-Probinsya program, buying two tickets home with the little money they had. There was also a working student who almost choked in tears, thinking of the uncertainty of her situation.” Silvestre explained.

Under the government’s Hatid Tulong program, LSIs will be brought back to their home provinces after coordinating with the relevant local government units and LSI’s having completed health requirements.