ALABEL, Sarangani, June 6 - As of June 5, the Sarangani provincial local government unit (PLGU) has already accommodated a total of 165 Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF) and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI) returning to their hometowns in Sarangani.
There were 16 ROFs and LSIs who have returned in Alabel; 15 in Malapatan; 11 in Glan; 23 in Malungon; 68 in Maasim; 17 in Kiamba; and 15 in Maitum. They arrived in 10 batches during the period May 25 to June 5, according to a list from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO). The list contained their names, origins, contact numbers and home addresses.
"As of now, inihahatid na natin sila sa kanilang mga respective municipalities and will follow the medical protocols na na-agreehan natin during our coordination meeting last week," said Rene Punzalan, PDRRM officer.
The Sarangani PLGU together with its seven towns conducted a "Coordination Meeting for Returning OFWs and LSIs" on May 28. It was attended by staff from the health office and disaster response teams. The meeting sought to establish a centralized action plan in catering to the concerns and needs of the ROFs and LSIs affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
"We conducted this meeting because we need to create a process tungod wala nato mahibal-an (because we don't know) at any time nga naay muabot nga eroplano (a plane would arrive) containing these returnees, we are on a crisis situation and we are not expecting ideal circumstances that is why diri sa LGU we have to be prepared," said Engr. Gerald Faciol, assistant provincial administrator for operations.
On May 25, the first batch of returnees arrived at General Santos City Airport via a sweeper flight from Manila.
"We were caught unaware kay just last Monday (May 25), it was a holiday, nakadawat tag information nga naay muabot nga eroplano (we receive an information of an incoming flight) at 11 in the morning and we were just advised at 10am and naa ra tay 1-hour lead time to arrange things, so what we did was gi-mobilize nato ang atong resources, we coordinated with the municipalities and thank God, naka-respond pud ta on time," Faciol said.
"Even if last-minute na ta na-inform and di man very ideal atong initial response but at least we were there and naka-provide ta og food and water to our OFWs kay nasayod kita nga pirti pud diay kataas sa oras nga ilahang gipila didto sa airport sa Manila para lang makasali sa sweeper flight padulong diri sa ato,"(We learned that they queued for long hours in the airport in Manila just to get a sweeper flight going here) he added.
Faciol also said, the only problem Sarangani PLGU has encountered during the arrival of the ROFs was the improper documentation and identification of all the repatriates from the sweeper flight.
"Wala kitay nahibal-an kung kinsa og pila ang mga taga-Sarangani og sa kung unsa nga munisipyo sila na-belong so ang atong gibuhat nag pull-out ta og sakyanan and luckily ni-respond pud most of our MLGUs."
(We don't know how many are from Sarangani and what municipality they belong, so what we did was to pull-out vehicles and luckily most MLGUs responded)
"But since we have conducted this Coordination Meeting for Returning OFWs and LSIs," Faciol said, "regardless kung naay mga taga-Sarangani o wala, ang arrangement nato sa mga munisipyo, basta naay information nga muabot, right away magpadala og sakyanan, may makarga man o wala."
(Regardless if there are passengers from Sarangani or none our arrangement to every municipality is we will inform them right away so they can send vehicles )
"On the part of the province, we will make the sorting and follow the medical protocols, kwaon nato ang record and we will provide the food and if ever kulang man jud ang sakyanan, naa tay i-provide nga standby para mahatud dayon ang atong mga OFWs sa ilang mga respective municipalities," he added.
(We will secure the record and we will provide the food and standy vehicle to send OFWs to their respective municipalities)
Faciol also asked all the Sarangans to give the ROFs a more welcoming environment. "Kinahanglan walay discrimination because after all, for quite some time sila jud ang atong modern heroes, sila ang nag sustain sa ekonomiya sa Pilipinas so karon nga higayon kinahanglan nila ang atoang pagsabot og atoang tabang (there should be no discrimination because after all, for quite some time they are our modern heroes,they sustain the Philippine economy, and this time they need our understanding and support) so let us welcome them, free from discrimination."
"Upon arrival last May 25," Provincial Health Officer Dr. Arvin Alejandro said, "may thermal scanning and interview tayo na ginawa to our returnees, then automatic forwarded sila to our MHOs or disaster office."
From Gensan airport, the returnees were picked up by the municipal vehicles and directed to their respective barangay quarantine facility.
Alejandro noted that all the ROFs in Sarangani were on the "Second Safety Level". "Ibig sabihin, sa ibang bansa before uuwi ay naka 14 days quarantine na and have undergone PCR test and then upon arriving in the Philippines nag-undergo gihapon silag 14 days quarantine og PCR test and tanan sila nga nag-negative maoy mga naka-uli."
Alejandro added, "pag-uli, kinahanglan naay mga documents to be presented but even if negative sila and nag-undergo sa proper procedure from their place of origin and upon arriving sa Manila, we agreed with the municipal LCEs na i-quarantine pa gihapon sila for 14 days to ensure nga wala jud sila nakakuha og any virus while in transit pabalik diri sa atoa."
On the other hand, returnees arriving from outside General Santos are catered by the province by fetching to transporting them to their respective quarantine facility. (Joshua John Pantonial/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)