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Extend travel ban for LSIs, Defensor asks NTF

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Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to continue the suspension of the trips of locally stranded individuals (LSI) into the province amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.

In a July 15 letter, Defensor requested the further suspension of LSI repatriation “until July 27, 2020 or until such time that we are able to execute intended additional protocols for the return of our LSIs”.

Lorenzana is the chairperson of the National Task Force Against (NTF) Covid-19. (https://bit.ly/2CEtGzV)

The governor enumerated the following protocols in his letter:

– LSIs should be subject to Real Time – Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction test before their travel;

– More stringent criteria as to avoid unintended migration; and

– Organized return of LSIs for better observation of social distancing at the point of origin and during the voyage, and for better anticipation and handling by local government units of their arrival and quarantine.

Defensor earlier said the provincial government has been actively preparing for the resumption of LSI return trips through the re-training of essential personnel.

He believes that further suspension could provide the provincial government with more time for improvement.

“We could really use the additional time to mend and improve our quarantine facilities, for which we are now conducting an inventory of space, review of personnel capacity, and an adjustment of physical facilities,” the governor said in his letter.

Defensor said that while he wished for all LSIs to be able to return, he wanted the situation in the province to improve.

“For our LSIs, I want to make this clear, first, is that we want our Ilonggo LSIs to go home whether they’re from Manila or Cebu. Second, if they are to go home, what we want, which is for their sake and the sake of their family in the province, the travel should be safe because this is a different time. We are in the middle of a pandemic. We are under quarantine, Metro Manila is under quarantine, Cebu is under quarantine, so the circumstances are different,” the governor said.

He said that he was only asking the national government for considerations to make sure that the return of the LSIs would be safe.

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