By ALI G. MACABALANG
Chief of Correspondents
COTABATO CITY: Bangsamoro Government has successfully sent home on Wednesday the 50 Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) bound for Basilan province.
COTABATO CITY—The Bangsamoro autonomous government has started sending home the 405 locally stranded individuals (LSIs) bound found for Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA), dispatching 50 of them on Wednesday through the Polloc Port in Parang, Maguindanao.
The 50 LSIs constituted the first batch in scheduled send-offs that will follow soon, according to the BARMM’s Bureau of Public Information (BPI).
All members of the first batch were Basilan residents, tested negative in COVID-19, completed 14-day quarantine at a BARMM facility in Maguindanao’s Sultan Kudarat town, and were ferried by a Naval Boat, the BPI said.
The remaining 355 BASULTA-bound bound LSIs who completed their 14 day quarantine period, and after following health protocols, will be sent off at the soonest possible time,” the BPI said.
The 405 LSIs were originally shuttled by a BARMM-chartered vessel from Manila purposely for the island provinces, the passenger boat rerouted to Cagayan de Oro City on July 7 for reasons the regional government was still trying to unearth.
The BPI said the BARMM government had hired 17 buses to take them to Zamboanga City, supposedly the nearest port of entry to the island provinces.
“However due to circumstances beyond the control of the Bangsamoro government, the buses had to be rerouted to Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (where all the LSIs eventually underwent the 14-day quarantine),” the BPI said.
Earlier, regional authorities said 117 of the 405 LSIs tested positive of the virus in what was believed to be a bid spike in COVID-19 cases in BARMM records.
In its statement, the BPI did not mention any progress in the quarantine of those 117 LSIs with positive results. With its announced scheduling in succeeding batches of the remaining 355, the information outfit implied a possible recovery among all the transients.
But Minister Sinarimbo in a Messenger statement for the Philippine Muslim Today said: “Those who tested positive have completed their quarantine period and did not show symptoms. Under the protocol they are considered to have recovered.”
In their quarantine facilities, the BSULTA-bound LSIs were assigned regular health and relief services, the BPI said.
Workers of the health and social welfare ministries provided the transients 24/7 attention, including also psychosocial interventions, the information agency aid.
Wednesday’s send-off ceremony was led by Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, representing Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim.
“It’s important that we keep the spirit of looking after the welfare of each one,” Sinarimbo was quoted as saying in a message stressing the commitment of the BARMM government to “help its constituents especially in times of crisis.”
Meanwhile, the BPI said Social Welfare Minister Raissa Jajurie in coordination with the BARMM-Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence provided cash assistance worth of P5,000 to each of the individuals, hygiene kits, and relief goods including 25 kilos of rice.
Wednesday’s ceremony was also attended by MOH-RESU head Dr. Amirel Usman, Parang, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Adnan Biruar, Representative of PNP PRO-BAR PCOL Jaime Mojica Jr., Sultan Kudarat LGUs, and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the BPI said. (AGM)
With JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL