URDANETA CITY, July 6 (PIA) -- The mass send-off of Locally Stranded Individuals going back to Region 1 and other parts of Luzon and Visayas took place on Sunday through the Hatid Tulong initiative of the government.
Marco Paulo Centeno is among the 15 LSIs returning to Pangasinan who is thankful for this government program that provided transportation to those stranded in Metro Metro due to lockdowns and travel restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
"Nang malaman ko po ang programang ito ay hindi na ako nagdalawang isip pa na umuwi na sa amin sa Malasiqui, Pangasinan," Centeno told the Philippine Information Agency.
Centeno was a former employee of a giant mall in Antipolo City. Prior to the pandemic, he managed to go home twice a month on weekends. He was, however, locked down beginning March when the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon was declared.
When he learned about the Hatid Tulong program, he immediately secured all the requirements such as travel authority and medical certificate. He also underwent swab testing on June 23 and got a negative result on the same day.
He, along with the other registered LSIs went to Quirino Grandstand as their departure area where they were given free food and accommodation.
"One hundred percent asikasong-asikaso po kami doon," he shared.
He also informed that they underwent rapid testing for COVID-19 and were given P2,000 cash assistance and some groceries by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Central Office.
Upon their arrival at the TPLEX Exit in Urdaneta City, the identified drop-off point for Pangasinan residents, at around 10:54 in the evening of July 5, they were provided each by the DSWD Field Office 1 a food pack that contains six kilos of rice, six sachets of coffee, 4 cans each of sardines and corned beef, and a hot meal.
From there, they were ferried to their respective hometown using two vehicles provided by the provincial government of Pangasinan and one from the city government of Dagupan. They are expected to undergo further local health protocols and procedures.
Now that he is home, he shared that he is set to start his own small business and at the same time help his parents in farming.
"Malaking pasalamat po ako sa tulong na ito. Sa wakas nakauwi na po ako," he said. (JCR/JND, PIA La Union)