By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
COTABATO City: A total of 96 stranded residents bound for the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have boarded the MV Lady Mary Joy-3 this week at the Polloc Port in Parang, Maguindanao.
According to the Bureau of Public Information (BPI) this means that the Bangsamoro Government has successfully sent home all 405 Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) to their respective provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
Among of the 96 individuals, 45 tested negative for Covid-19, while the remaining 51 who tested positive have already recovered. All of them have completed the 14-days quarantine in the isolation facilities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
It can be recalled that the 405 LSIs from Manila were originally bound for the BaSulTa island provinces but were rerouted to Cagayan de Oro City on July 7.
The Bangsamoro Government hired 17 buses to take them to Zamboanga City, which should have been 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.
Interior and Local Government Minister lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, during the sending off ceremony, assured the LSIs of their safe return to their respective provinces.
“Part of our preparation for your return is our time to time coordination with the local government units (LGUs),” Sinarimbo said.
“When you arrive in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, you will be welcomed by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management officer (PDRRMO) and Local Government officials of each province,” he added.
Sinarimbo also emphasized that the Bangsamoro Government has provided the basic needs of the LSIs that are essential upon arriving in their respective provinces.
“Pinadalhan po namin kayo ng iba pang gamit para pagdating niyo sa inyong mga probinsiya ay kaya niyong mamuhay ng ilang weeks habang nag-aadjust, at tuluyang mapadali ang pag-integrade niyo sa inyong mga komunidad,” Sinarimbo said.
Each LSI received P5,000.00 cash assistance, 25 kilograms of rice, groceries, medicines, and hygiene kits from the BARMM’s Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) and Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READI).
One of the LSIs was emotional as he recalled his experience throughout his stay in the isolation facilities.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa BARMM, kasi hindi nila kami pinabayaan sa isolation center. Araw-araw kaming binigyan ng makakain, ng tulugan, at iba pa,” he said.[We are thankful to BARMM for taking care of our needs while staying in the isolation facilities. They provided us with daily meals, sleeping mats, and others.]
“Sa wakas makakauwi na din kami sa mga bahay namin, matagal naming hinintay ang araw na to. Maraming salamat po sa lahat ng tumulong sa amin,” he added.[We can finally go home, we have been waiting for this day. Thank you so much to everyone who helped us.]
The successful transfer of the LSIs was also made possible thru the support of the BARMM’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Public Works (MPW), United Nation- International Organization for Migration (UN-IOM), Local Government Units of Sultan Kudarat and Parang, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other partner agencies. JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL