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Defensor thumbs down proposed return of LSIs amid MECQ in NCR

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Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. dismissed the suggestion to include locally stranded individuals (LSI) in the exemptions under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila amid the growing number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in the region.

While he wishes for its residents to come home, Defensor said they also have to balance out protecting residents who are already in the province.

The governor added that it was important that quarantine facilities in Iloilo will not be overwhelmed by the influx of repatriates. (https://bit.ly/39ZTyT8)

Under Executive Order No. 128-H issued by Defensor on July 23, only 300 passengers on airlines and 250 passengers on vessels, whether LSI or Returning Overseas Filipino, may be allowed into the province per week.

“We want them to go home especially because they have been facing a hard time, but we are balancing. We have to help fellow Filipinos there, but we also have fellow Filipinos here who need protection, including the families of overseas Filipino workers and LSIs,” he said.

“What is important for us is that what we are doing here on our own is we try to regulate. We have an arrangement with shipping lines and airlines so that we don’t get overwhelmed. We are monitoring the list of our tests and our quarantine facilities so that we will know. For example, if we become overwhelmed, we will tell shipping lines to limit to 70, being mindful of the capacity of the quarantine facilities.”

Defensor also said that the capital region’s MECQ status should entail strong border restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Presidential Management Staff chief Joseph Encabo had appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to include LSIs under the exemptions from MECQ restrictions so that the Hatid Tulong program can continue.

Encabo is the head convenor of Hatid Tulong, the national government’s signature program for LSI repatriations across the country.