The surge of returning stranded residents and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) has strained Puerto Princesa City’s capacity to provide adequate quarantine facilities, information received by Palawan News from reliable sources indicate.
The city has yet to disclose the current occupancy of its three established quarantine facilities.
So far this week, a total of 259 city residents have arrived via mercy flights and a chartered sea vessel. At least eight of them have tested positive during their mandatory rapid testing, qualifying them as probable COVID-19 cases; and one was confirmed COVID-19 positive.
Several quarantined individuals interviewed by Palawan News claimed that they are not individually isolated and have been sharing rooms with others.
“Ang sabi kasi puno na, madami [ang] naka-quarantine kaya pinagsama-sama. Baka dito pa kami magkahawaan sa quarantine,” an LSI, who asked not to be identified, told Palawan News.
Palawan News has yet to receive a reply when it tried to validate the information from city health authorities.
The LSIs interviewed also said they have been instructed not to disclose information to the public and have been asked to sign a waiver to that effect.
“Pinagbawalan nila kami na magkwento tungkol dito sa labas. Nilagay nila doon sa waiver na pinapirmahan bago kami pinasok sa quarantine,” another LSI informant said.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s order early this week has prompted national authorities to immediately facilitate the departure from Manila of stranded individuals, prompting criticisms from many LGUs including Puerto Princesa about the lack of coordination by national offices.
In Puerto Princesa City, the first batch of 17 returning LSIs arrived on the evening of May 26 with no prior coordination by national officials, forcing the city government to scramble to prepare its quarantine facilities.
The city tourism office earlier estimated there are over 2,000 stranded individuals trying to return to Palawan.
Mayor Lucilo Bayron, in Executive Order No. 2020-27 issued by on May 27, delineated the “protocol for the management of LSI and returning OFW”.
It also provided that LSIs as well as ROFs who did not test positive in the rapid diagnostic test (RDT) during the mandatory screening, or have no signs or symptoms, as determined by the authorized physician of the City Health Office (CHO), may be referred to home quarantine.
The local authorities have yet to comment on the issue despite multiple attempts for an interview.