ISABELA CITY, Basilan, 09 July (PIA) - The Provincial Government of Basilan with its Inter-Agency Task Force is ready to accept Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) despite the approved request of Governor Jim Hataman Salliman, Head of Basilan IATF to temporarily suspend the repatriation of LSIs to the province.
The National IATF COVID-19 through Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has approved the Basilan IATF's request for suspension of LSIs from Manila to Basilan for 15 days effective July 1 due to a large number of frontliners who were exposed to COVID-19 patients, who are mostly LSIs, that forced them to be placed under quarantine.
"Gusto ko lang i-clarify na may approval ng IATF na huwag munang papasukin 'yung mga LSIs. Kaso lang may na-transport na. Hindi na-coordinate agad kaya meron tayong paparating sa 2GO at meron tayo sa Cagayan ng 301. Para maintindihan ng lahat, medyo malaki-laki yong 'damage' natin lalo na sa frontliners kaya yon ang reason din kung bakit humingi ako at halos puno na ang mga quarantine areas natin," Governor Jim Salliman said in a radio phone-patch interview at local radio this Thursday morning.
However, on the night of July 07, the Basilan Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 received reporst that almost 300 Basilenos who are LSIs, ferried via 2GO were stranded at Cagayan de Oro as they wait to be transported to Zamboanga City and eventually to Basilan. The BARMM Government and LGU-Misamis Oriental provided them with food and overnight accommodation, while the BIATF mobilized resources in order to assist them and had strict coordination made by LGUs concerned to ensure that all of them were in comfort.
Furthermore, the local governments in Basilan have continued to pull resources in order to send support for food and hygiene needs of stranded LSIs in Cagayan de Oro. Through Basilan Congressman Mujiv Hataman, volunteers who have roots in Basilan but are staying in CDO and other friends are mobilized to provide support. Arrangements' are now being made to transport the LSIs to Basilan as soon as possible.
Moreover, Basilan IATF revealed this morning that per report from the Coastguard Zamboanga City, new batch of LSIs have arrived at past 12 midnight early today in Zamboanga City via 2GO vessel. Basilan has a total of 66 LSIs that are temporarily sheltered at a local hotel.
The Provincial IATF are working smoothly to prepare the arrival of these huge number of LSIs and ensure that the mechanisms as being implemented since the start of Balik-Basilan as localized term for Hatid-Tulong will strictly be implemented despite the re-organization of frontliners team who are in-charge for their arrivals.
"Kung kaya ilagay na muna natin sa isang lugar ang mga ito. So kahapon, nag-ikot ako, naghanap ako at sumulat ako sa Basilan State College na kung pwede manghiram, kasi wala pa naman klase so medyo makakaya, ipapa-overtime ko din para makaprepare tayo. Nagdecide din 'yong Provincial Government, naghanap na ako ng way na hindi muna maburden yong mga locals natin kasi maximum ng 400 ang ilalagay natin muna sa area," Salliman said.
For now, the Basilan IATF team are facilitating the necessary actions to transport the LSIs in Zamboanga City to Basilan as soon as possible since Zamboanga City only allows 12 hours stay of LSIs in their city as one of their policies to contain the spread of coronavirus diseases (COVID-19). (NBE/RVC/NDR/PIA9-Basilan)