ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat, July 9 (PIA) - Local chief executives of SOCCKSARGEN Region embrace the national government's Hatid Tulong Initiative that has recently brought home residents who were stranded in Metro Manila due to lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Some 629 locally stranded individuals (LSI) who comprised the first batch of Hatid Tulong Initiative beneficiaries arrived in Isulan Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday and Wednesday and are currently on mandatory 14-day quarantine at home or in facilities established or designated by the local government units.
The Provincial Government of Sultan Kudarat led by Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu offered the compound of the New Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital as the regional Hatid Tulong drop-off site where the provincial governments of Cotabato Province, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Maguindanao (of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), General Santos City, and Cotabato City fetched their respective LSIs.
Josephine Leysa, regional director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, said that although they were only informed about the take-off of Hatid Tulong Initiative from Quirino Grandstand a day before the departure on July 4, setting up the local reception site, personnel, and logistics was smooth because of the cooperation of the local government units.
"We in DILG are grateful that all the local chief executives in the region are very accommodating, kind and generous to our returning OFWs and LSIs," Leysa said.
Besides reception personnel, ambulances and vehicles sent to the drop-off site in Isulan, LGUs across Region 12 also established provincial drop-off points within their jurisdictions for the triage and rapid diagnostic test of the LSIs before they were endorsed to their respective municipal and barangay LGUs for mandatory two-week quarantine.
"Amidst the crisis, the Provincial Government of Sultan Kudarat, through the leadership of our beloved Governor Suharto Tan Mangudadatu, wholeheartedly serve and offer our help....We in the provincial government are willing to die doing something rather than live doing nothing," Sultan Kudarat Vice Governor Jose Remos Segura said speaking on behalf of Gov. Mangudadatu at the Hatid Tulong grand reception ceremony on Monday.
Meanwhile, Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco said the Hatid Tulong Initiative of the Office of the President reinforces the ongoing local efforts to bring home stranded residents.
"We are so happy and grateful with this initiative of the President," Gov. Catamco said. "With Hatid Tulong Initiative more stranded residents can now return home with help from the national government."
Cotabato Province's Sagip Stranded North Cotabatenos kicked off on April 29 to register residents stuck in other provinces because of lockdowns and travel restrictions due to coronavirus disease pandemic.
As of June 30 Cotabato's Sagip Stranded had already brought home 6,833 returning overseas Filipinos and LSIs.
Efforts included chartering three airline flights from Manila and Cebu. Negotiation for four more sweeper flights are underway, Catamco said.
Hatid Tulong Initiative is a transport assistance for LSIs initiated by the Office of the President in coordination with the DILG, Department of National Defense, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Reconciliation and Unity, Deparment of Health and other members of the IATF as well as local government units.
Hatid Tulong is an offshoot of Executive Order No. 114 that institutionalized the Balik Probinsiya Bagong Pag-asa Program which was launched in May.
Balik Probinsiya Program was halted in June to give way to the repatriation of OFWs and LSIs back to the provinces.
Beneficiaries of Hatid Tulong are students, tourists, workers, and repatriated OFWs.(DED-PIA XII)