Executive assistant IV Ceasar Sammy Magbanua shows Governor Jose Alvarez the communications center that the provincial government has set up to assist stranded Palaweños. (Photo courtesy of Palawan Moving Forward)

The provincial government said Thursday it will extend financial assistance to all stranded residence, apart from facilitating their travel back to the province.

Executive assistant IV Ceasar Sammy Magbanua said during an online press briefing that the provincial government has developed a system to accomplish the repatriation, involving the provision of cash assistance and the coordination of sweeper flights to get them home.

“For those na wala na talagang financial means to support themselves ay padadalhan sila ng provincial government. Kapag okay na lahat ng documents nila ay ipapadala na sa kanila ang financial assistance through Palawan Pawnshop or other means,” Magbanua said.

He said that the financial assistance will be sent through Palawan Pawnshop and other possible modes of transfer.

“We were assured by our financial officer that we have enough funds to extend financial assistance to them, subject to validation by our PSWDO. For those granted financial assistance ay magsu-submit sila ng mga documents kasi kailangan din natin ‘yan ma-liquidate sa susunod. May viber at messenger tayo na pwedeng ipadala ang mga documents,” he added.

Sagip Palaweño

Magbanua said they are in the middle of preparing a masterlist of stranded residents from in and out of the province under the project they have dubbed “Sagip Palaweño”.

“Nasa coordination pa lang tayo, ginagawa ang masterlist ng mga kababayan natin na uuwi,” he said.

Magbanua said they have put up a 12-hour “call center” operation to cater to both residents who are stranded outside the province and those in the province needing help to return to their hometowns.

“Basically, ang call center natin ay dedicated for strandees outside Palawan. Then mayron din tayong sinet-up para doon sa mga stranded sa iba’t-ibang munisipyo. Over the weekend kasi ay sunod-sunod ang instruction si Gob doon sa mga stranded natin na mga kababayan sa Maynila at sa iba pang panig ng bansa,” he said.

He said that the call center will have a 12-hour operation from Monday to Sunday.

The hotline numbers of Sagip Palaweño are: 0935-515-7055; 0935-515-7056; 0935-515-7058; 0935-515-7060; 0935-515-7077; 0951-982-8753; 0946-567-7342; 0946-567-7108; 0951-982-8754; and 0951-982-8755.

He said that there are two teams assigned to the program.

“Limang globe at limang smart na ginagamit doon sa operation center, parang call center ang labas nya na may taong nagma-man doon, nakalink ito sa isang computer at may ginagamit na software na kung saan ang nakakausap ay nae-encode ang mga detalye,” Magbanua said.

Magbanua said that Puerto Princesa City also provided a hotline for those residents of the city.

“Kung may tatawag na from city ay may binigay naman silang contact para doon i-refer kapag tumawag sa atin. May mga dedicated hotlines po tayo, please get in touch. Pasensya na rin kung minsan ay hindi nakakasagot dahil na rin ng sa bilang ng apektado itong COVID-19,” he said.

Assistance system

Magbanua said a caller will be asked for details of the stranded resident and link the information to their computer database.

Each case will be endorsed to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development (PSDWO) for final approval and to determine either to extend repatriation or financial assistance.

“PSWDO ang may final verification. Since we are dealing with government funds ay dapat ma-verify bago sila matulungan either financial or appropriate information,” he said.

Repatriation

Provincial information officer Winston Arzaga said that they are prepared to schedule the sweeper flights to Palawan.

“Naghihintay lang tayo ng go signal kung kailan magre-resume ang flights sa Palawan. Kapag mayron na ay doon na tayo makakaorganize ng mga sweeper flights,” he said.

“Ang pagpayag nila sa pagpauwi ng mga kababayan ay subject for condition, unang-una dapat may bukas na airport and until such time na hindi pa bukas ‘yan ay hindi pa rin siguro magkakaroon ng sweeper flights. But, ang kagandahan with that statement ni Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque ay pwede magrequest ang isang LGU ng sweeper flights, at ang maganda ay natrace na natin kung sino ang mga sasakay doon,” Arzaga added.

He said that Governor Alvarez has been coordinating directly with airline companies for the sweeper flights.

“Sa ngayon ay nakikipag-usap na si gob sa mga airline companies for a possible discounts on fare kasi kahit doon sa eroplano ay social distancing ‘yan. At this time, wala pa rin naman guidelines tungkol doon [sa repartriation],” Arzaga said.

He said that passengers, once back in Palawan, will be directly transported from the airport to their homes.

“Ang usapan ay pagdating ng airport, sasakay sila ng van ng munisipyo na susundo to their houses. Bawal na silang tumambay pa sa Puerto. Kung ang lugar naman na pinanggalingan nila ay walang positive cases ay no need to undergo 14-day quarantine,” he said.