TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, July 7 (PIA) - - "We feel happy and very much thankful to the government as we are now back home safely," shared Michelle Caranto as she stepped in her home province together with sixteen other Locally Standard Individuals (LSIs) who availed of the "Hatid Tulong" initiative of the government.
Caranto, a native of Gattaran town, is the only Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in the group who arrived from Lebanon last June 15. She was stranded in Taytay, Rizal for almost a month before she was able to travel in her home province through the program.
Of the 17 LSIs, four were from Solana town, three from Abulug, three from Calayan, two from Gattaran, two from Piat, one each from Tuao and Aparri and one came from Manila to submit his application documents at the office of the Philippine Coastguard in this city.
They were among the estimated 2,000 LSIs assisted through the program. Five buses bound for Cagayan Valley region have departed Quirino Grandstand, Manila on Sunday. Some were dropped at the designated quarantine facilities in Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela, and in this city for Cagayan.
Dr. Carlos Cortina, provincial health officer, said after the assessment conducted by health officials assigned at the quarantine facility, their respective Local Government Units (LGUs) fetched them.
"Their respective LGU health officials will again assess them. They will be subjected to mandatory quarantine, either facility quarantine or home isolation, depending on the assessment of the health officials," Cortina said.
He also said it is also the call of the LGUs if they will undertake testing, either anti-body test or RT-PCR.
May-Ann Bumagat, 26, and a native of Calayan Island, said she went to Caloocan last January to hunt a job, unfortunately the pandemic hindered her quest for employment and was stranded for more than five months until she learned about the Hatid Tulong program through the official website of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
"This program has helped us a lot because we could hardly hire private vehicle for us to go home, there are no public transport facilities yet going here and our pockets are already drained," she said.
She said there are three of them who will be going home to Calayan. Their municipal mayor, Joseph Llopis, is now coordinating their transportation going back to their island town.
On the other hand, Odessa Attegu, said they need to go home in Abulug town, together with her partner, William Salondaguit and their 2-year-old son, as both of them lost their jobs in Cavite as an effect of the pandemic.
"We lost our jobs and because of the lockdown there, we could hardly look for another employment. So we decided to seek assistance through this Hatid Tulong program. We are hopeful to look for a job here," Oddessa said.
Most of the returning LSIs were either job applicants or employees in the National Capital Region who were affected by the Corona Virus Disease 2019 pandemic. (MDCT/OTB/PIA-Cagayan)