Local residents who remain stranded in Manila and other key cities because of the lockdowns, estimated to be over 2,000 individuals, are appealing for help from local authorities.
Many have run out of funds to support their stay while awaiting opportunities to return to the province, and many are desperate for assistance to help them return to Palawan.
Cherry Ann Bacar, an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) applicant, told Palawan News on Tuesday that most locally stranded individuals (LSI) from their group of 287 have now run out of funds and desperate to go home to rejoin their families.
Bacar said they appreciate the financial support from the provincial government, but even this had already run out.
“Imbis na tulungan tayo at isipin ang seguridad natin i-expose pa alam nilang virus ang kalaban. Pahirapan pa nila tayo. Nakakainis walang magawa ‘yong gobyerno para sa atin,” Bacar said.
Running Out of Funds
Honey Grace Lebantino, a student stranded in Cebu, said that around 94 LSI from Central Visayas, mostly students and board exam reviewees, fear being evicted from their dormitories as three months of lockdown have restrained them financially.
“May classmate pa kami na bago pa mag-enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), pinalayas na dito sa dorm at pinagkamalang may COVID-19,” Lebantino said on her Facebook post.
An online call for donation has since been organized by Lebantino to help her co-strandees hurdle through financial restraints.
“Three months na kaming ‘di nakakalabas ng dorm namin though para din yon sa safety namin, wala na kaming pambili ng food at pangbayad ng dorm, dahil bukod sa pagkain at bayad sa dorm, nagbabayad din kami ng laundry dahil nga bawal maglaba dito sa dorm namin,” Lebantino added.
Cynthia Amurao, city tourism officer (CTO), talking to the City Council on Monday, said that around 2,006 LSI had reached out to their office for a coordinated return home.
Councilor Elgin Damasco, empathizing with the LSI, requested mayor Lucilo Bayron to extend financial support as they wait for their return home. Resolution No. 544-2020 was concurred by the Council, dispensing second and final reading.
“Bahala na si mayor [Kung] magkano [ang] ibibigay, importante mabigyan pero subject pa rin ng approval niya,” Damasco told Palawan News.
The LSI also pointed out that completing the travel requirements had been one of the major roadblocks as certain barangays outside Palawan have denied non-residents.
“Ang iba namang stranded ay pinagpapasa-pasahan ng kani-kanilang baranggay kaya’t lalong napapatagal ang pag-asikaso nila ng requirements. May iba pa na pinapaalis sa baranggay hall dahil nga ‘non-residents are not allowed’ daw,” Lebantino said.
Amurao said that they are still coordinating with airlines and shipping companies. She was unable to provide a timeline citing that most LSIs were still in the process of acquiring the medical certificate and travel authority.
Abundio Irinco Jr., a stranded Palaweño in Bacoor in Cavite, said it was so hard for him to get his medical clearance certificate (MCC) and travel authority (TA).
At the onset of his experience, he said he failed to get his MCC because he has no certificate of acceptance from his municipal government of origin.
“Bigo along makakuha ng medical certificate, bakit? Kasi wala raw akong certificate of acceptance mula sa Palawan kaya hindi ako makakuha,” he narrated.
He said he tried again to get his MCC with the assistance of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) in Bacoor. He was made to go to the city health and did it by walking a long distance, but was only able to get his MCC after 10 days.
But he hit another roadblock in getting his TA from the city tourism office of Bacoor because his MCC failed to indicate that he is a locally stranded individual.
“Sa barangay clearance dapat daw nakalagay na LSI ako, hindi ako nakapasa. Pinabalik ako kasi daw dapat daw nakalagay yon. Sinubukan ko ulit bumalik sa city hall after ko mapapalitan, kalahating oras ako naglakad. After ko bumalik, ayon na nga need mo gumawa ng letter, sulat kamay, isa sa mga kailangan daw para makakuha ng TA,” he said.
He waited for his TA until a new guideline told them that the Philippine National Police (PNP) had been tasked to release it to the LSIs.
“Ang sabi doon walang TA kung walang ticket papuntang Palawan. Para akong binuhusan ng malamig na tubig kahit basang-basa ako sa pawis kalalakad. Ang sabi ko paano ito, hindi ako makakuha ng ticket kasi kailangan ng TA. May sumingit, ang sabi niya kung sa Palawan no need na ng ticket. Nasa labas na ako ng police station, biglang lumabas ang police officer, tinawag ako, ang sabi kulang pa daw ako ng vehicle at medical clearance ng driver. Kaya umuwi na lang ako, hanggang ngayon naghahanap pa rin ako ng vehicle na yan para sa travel authority,” Irinco said.