Vice President Leni Robredo expressed shock and dismay Saturday (July 25) over photos of thousands of stranded travelers who have filled the Rizal Stadium in Manila.
“Are these pictures real? If they are, shame on us,” she said in a Facebook post.
Authorities said the travelers in photos which have gone viral online were those who had been temporarily sheltered at Philippine Army Gymnasium of the Villamor Air Base Elementary School and Manila Science High School who are bound for the provinces.
They are set to travel to their hometowns after undergoing rapid test for COVID-19.
Robredo gave six suggestions to manage the send off of the province-bound travelers as part of the government’s “Hatid Tulong” program. These include scheduling the trips of the locally stranded individuals (LSIs) by province or region.
“If there was pre registration, alam na dapat kung anong araw lang sila dapat pumunta for their tests and trips. Again, by batches sana. Huwag sabay sabay,” she added.
Robredo said that if an unregistered traveler arrives at the designated send off area, he or she should be directed to go to another place.
The LSIs should also be tested in the facilities where they are housed and not at the waiting area for their vehicles to prevent congestion, she added.
Robredo said rapid testing should also not be done for the LSIs.
“We should have learned our lessons by now. Hindi siya reliable. Maraming dumating sa Bicol by PNR, allegedly, after undergoing rapid testing. Pag dating doon, they tested positive. Dapat sana swab testing na gawin para mas mataas ang accuracy,” she said.
Robredo said the national government should also coordinate with local government units about the influx of LSIs.
“Hindi puwede fyi lang. Dapat tanungin capacity nila to take in so much number of LSIs. Hindi natin puwede ipasa responsibility sa kanila kasi hindi pareho pareho yung capacities ng bawat LGU,” she said.
Robredo said that while she supports helping LSIs return to their hometowns, the procedures must be done right to avoid the spread of COVID-19.