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Mayor Bautista promises not to abandon 344 workers stranded in Boracay

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ILOILO CITY – The local government of Malay, Aklan is identifying means to aid the 344 workers stranded in Boracay Island due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)-related enhanced community quarantine.

In a phone interview Monday, Malay mayor Frolibar Bautista told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the local government unit will distribute rice assistance to stranded workers within this week.

The Public Employment Service Office (PESO)-Malay has initially listed 344 stranded workers composed mostly of construction workers and those employed in tourism establishments.

“Some of them are from Iloilo, others from Capiz, and there are also some from Romblon,” Bautista said.

The local government of Panit-an, Capiz has already sent food packs to its stranded locals in the island while the Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Office in Iloilo province is coordinating with Malay also to assist their stranded locals.

Bautista is exploring possibilities that Malay can also use the available funds for Aid for Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) to help the stranded workers.

“It is because they cannot avail of the Social Amelioration Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). We also have to check if they already availed of the Department of Labor and Employment’s amelioration program. But for the meantime, we will distribute rice assistance to them within this week,” he said.

In recent press conference, Ma. Evelyn Macapobre, regional director of DSWD 6 said they will coordinate with Malay’s local government unit in their needs for food of stranded workers.

“We can help them through our food packs. The DSWD will work together with the local government unit because they are the first to help them. If the LGU cannot assist them with food, DSWD can augment through our food packs,” she said.

Bautista said that some of the workers wish to go home in their respective provinces.

Malay allows them to leave the island but Bautista said they might find it hard to cross borders because of quarantine protocols.

He said the local government also received information that the families of stranded workers are being taken care of by their respective local government units.

“They depend on the salaries of our stranded workers but we are assured that their families also receive aid from the government while they are stranded here,” he said.

Malay town was put under general community quarantine last March 19 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

To date, the town has one suspected case and one confirmed.

Bautista said the suspected case was a 26-year-old man, who died last April 15 while the confirmed case involves a 37-year-old man, who is in stable condition and awaiting repeat Covid-19 testing result.

The mayor also noted that the province of Aklan is imposing travel restriction and enhanced community quarantine until April 30, as per the executive order signed by Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores last April 9. (PNA)