ORMOC CITY – 113 Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) from various parts of Cebu island, considered the hotspot of the Visayas for the virus, were properly welcomed by the LGU early morning of May 30, through its Stranded Ormocanons Recovery Assistance Task Force headed by City Councilor Jasper Lucero.
Councilor Vincent Rama, brother-in-law of Mayor Richard I. Gomez, personally witnessed the arrival of the LSIs and expressed his appreciation on how orderly the 113 LSIs were profiled by the assistance team who were all dressed in Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
The 113 are composed of seniors, pregnant women, PWDs, students and those who enrolled in the City’s program that was launched through social media two months ago. Before they embarked on the Roble Shipping Lines boat, they underwent rapid testing courtesy of the An Waray partylist.
Rama thanked the An Waray for the assistance extended to the stranded Ormocanons, and Cebu officials including cousin Vice Mayor Michael Rama for giving them the travel authority.
Councilor Jasper Lucero said around 2,000 have enrolled in the program but only around one-half want to go home. Of that number, some 600 are in the Province of Cebu. They will be allowed to come home in batches, so as to ensure there is room for them in the government’s Ormoc City LIGTAS COVID Center.
Ormoc City has a newly finished 699-unit National Housing Authority (NHA) project, intended for the July 2017 earthquake victims, which is now being temporarily used as the city’s isolation and quarantine center. There are also isolation units prepared in the city’s barangays, aside from 50 isolation cubes donated to the LGU by the Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay, which are now set up in Ormoc’s biggest public school, the Ormoc City Central School.
The city also has allowed private hotels and hostels to accept the LSIs with the agreement that they will be closely monitored by the LGU. Two hotels, IAL Lodge and the Hotel Don Felipe have signified their acceptance to host them and future arrivals.
The returning residents pay for their board and lodging at the hotels, while those who stay at the LIGTAS COVID Center get free board and lodging. The government facility also has free wi-fi.
SK Federation president Joan Marbie Simbajon said that the city’s youth are also planning to hold activities like mini-concerts to entertain the returning residents.
The welcome of the LSIs debunks claims that Mayor Richard I. Gomez did not welcome returning residents, including OFWs, to the city.
In the Ormoc City Covid19 Task Force meeting held yesterday, May 29, the mayor announced the impending arrival of the LSIs from Cebu. He said that Ormoc is ready to welcome returning residents but said they should coordinate with the LGU so that everything will go smoothly.
To claims that he was “nataranta” (got rattled), Mayor Gomez quipped, “We are not in a panic mode, we were never in a panic mode. Hindi tayo natataranta. Tarantado lang tayo (with a laugh) but hindi natataranta. Time will tell nga atong gibuhat diri sa Ormoc was right from the start.”
As of May 29, 2020, Ormoc City has already received 81 returning residents from the national government’s Balik Probinsiya Program. 62 are males, while 19 are female. 55 of them are OFWs, and 3 are children. 58 were “uncoordinated” or were received without prior coordination with the LGU, while only 23 were “coordinated”. 43 housing units were used up in the LIGTAS COVID Center, while 6 opted for paid board and lodging at the IAL Lodge. On the other hand, 48 of today’s arrivals from Cebu opted for paid stay at the IAL Lodge, while 65 opted for the LIGTAS COVID Center.