Some 200 local fishermen returning from Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro where they were stranded since the Luzon-wide lockdown will be quarantined at the City Agricultural Trading Center (CATC) in Barangay Irawan for 14-days upon arrival.
Dr. Dean Palanca, city health officer (CHO), said during the public consultation Saturday in Barangay Irawan that each fisherman will undergo a medical check-up upon arrival.
“Initiative na namin (CHO) kasi nandyan na sila, kailangan na natin gawin agad yan kesa magkaniya-kaniya sila gaya nang nangyari sa Bgy. Mangingisda,” Dr. Palanca said.
Palanca said that during the course of the monitoring, those who would exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 will be brought to a medical facility for treatment.
He added that their food will be provided by the city government.
Palanca also assured the community of their safety.
“Sila ay wala talagang sakit, huwag tayo matakot doon. Kung sakali na may magkasakit diyan, automatic na ang aming medical team ay tatanggalin sila dyan at ilalagay sa isang pasilidad na doon sila babantayan,” he said.
Palanca reiterated that they will not put the residents at risk and that the agricultural trading center area will be disinfected and decontaminated after the two-week monitoring.
Palanca said these fishermen are residents of Puerto Princesa who were unable to go home as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was implemented in March subsequently imposing the “no sail” policy in Luzon.
“Naiwan sila sa karagatan bago pa magkaroon ng lockdown ang parte ng Pilipinas, before pa mag-start ng March ay nasa dagat na sila. Inabot na sila ng lockdown kaya hindi sila makapasok-pasok dito. Hirap na rin sila, almost dalawa hanggang tatlong buwan na raw sila dyan sa dagat nangingisda at nagpapabili ng kanilang pangingisdain diyan sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Visayas,” he said.
He said that the security of the area will be handled by five members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and three CHO medical team members.
“Sila ay nagbigay ng mensahe kay mayor na sila ay kailangan bumalik dahil wala na silang pera at marami na rin silang utang,” he said. Hindi namin sila pwede ipasok ng kaniya-kaniya dahil magkakagulo ang lahat ng barangay sa Puerto Princesa, naisip namin na isang lugar na lang natin sila pagdalhan,” he said.
Irawan village chief Noel Resuma also assured residents that even the barangay council will not put at the risk their situation in allowing them to hold the quarantine area for PUMs in the agricultural trading center.
“Para mapadali na ang pag-uwi ng mga taong ito sa kanilang pamilya. Hindi namin kayo ilalagay sa alanganin, kahit ako may pamilya din. Tinutulungan lang din natin sila makabalik sa kanilang pamilya at makapamuhay ng normal,” he said.
Arlene Cabrera, one of the residents living near the area, said that they also agreed to the proposal as they want to help the stranded fisherfolks.
“Agree na rin ako kasi gusto naman namin makatulong sa kanila at kasi two weeks lang din naman daw,” she said.
Severino Destura, station commander of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Puerto Princesa City, said that the fishermen are still in Sablayan town waiting for the green light from PCG Mindoro.
“Nasa Mindoro pa sila dahil hindi sila mabibigyan ng clearance haggang hindi lifted ang no sail policy or i-allow ng mga probinsiya ang paglalayag nila pabalik sa Palawan. Wala pang date ang kanilang pagbabalik,” Destura said. (with reports from Romar Miranda)