NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
The entry of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) will continue but as regulated based on available LGU quarantine facilities, said Gov. Arthur Yap in a policy concurred by the country’s top COVID-19 response implementers.
The governor called it a policy of “managed arrival.”
“It’s your call, Gov. Yap, according to your available quarantine facility,” Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) chief implementer, replied to the governor’ notice of stance on allowable LSI inflow to Bohol.
On the other hand, Yap warned the “illegal” LSIs who return home without prior coordination with their mayors or LGUs.
The governor said they will still be transferred to the LGU-based quarantine facilities—apart from quarantine violation charges—while their family members are locked down.
Most of the mayors themselves opposed the option of home quarantine for the LSIs, from among whom are all the 21 current active COVID-19 cases in Bohol.
The newest confirmed positive cases as of this writing involved the two LSIs in Loboc who were already isolated in the LGU facility.
Yap encouraged the mayors to find additional quarantine facilities and the barangay captains to check regularly for any newly-arrived persons in their areas.
Several thousand more Boholanos elsewhere in the country have intimated to come home, including those who have lost jobs or been economically dislocated in Philippine places worst or most hit by the pandemic.
Yap separately asked the Department of Interior and Local Government ((DILG) Sec. Eduardo Año not to suspend but rather only make gradual the transport of LSIs to Bohol.
Año also positively, briefly replied, “Okay Gov. Yap, very reasonable.”
However, only the LSIs within Central Visayas who wish to come home to Bohol are allowed for now.
This is because of the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) suspension of the transport of LSIs who are bound for Central Visayas, Regions 6 and 8, and CARAGA Region.
Yap clarified there is no truth to the PCG information that he stopped the transport of the LSIs from the Ouano wharf in Mandaue City to Tagbilaran City.
In one instance, the LSIs gathered at the wharf were not allowed to board a Lite Shipping vessel bound for Bohol because it carried flammable goods, which might pose danger to human cargoes, the governor said.
Further, Yap clarified that the LSIs from Cebu province can return to Bohol, except those from Cebu City which is nationally considered as an emerging epicenter of COVID-19.
He maintained that the agreement of the IATF and DILG to his managed arrival policy still depends on the LSIs’ compliance with the required quarantine certification and COVID-19 Shield pass or travel authority issued by the PNP.
More importantly, the LSIs must coordinate with their mayors or LGUs through the designated focal persons since they directly know the capacity of their quarantine facilities and available rooms in a given time.
As of June 30, Bohol exceeded by 560% its target number of returned LSIs for the month.
In an emergency management meeting last May, Yap said he targets to receive an initial of one thousand stranded Boholanos by the whole of said month.
But, according to Technical Working Group spokesperson Dr. Cesar Tomas Lopez, already 6,654 LSIs had returned as of last day of June. (Ven rebo Arigo)