“I just wish the Vice President could actually offer solutions, ‘no,” presidential spokesperson said to Karen Davila in an ANC interview last night after she brought up VP Leni Robredo’s call for the government to act faster and more organized in helping people left stranded in Metro Manila.
ICYMI, Robredo’s comment was prompted by the death of Michele Silvertino, who died in a footbridge in Pasay after waiting five days for a bus to take her home to Calabanga, Camarines Sur. “Our only request is that the right information for those who are stranded will be organized. If the system will not be fixed, there will be more cases like hers,” Robredo had said, pointing out the need for LGUs to coordinate better. (On the subject of Silvertino, Roque said during the interview that “‘Michelle’ had to happen before we made a decision that even locally stranded individuals will be given assistance, which is really unfortunate.”)
In the interview with Davila, Roque defended the government’s actions to help the stranded individuals, saying that the delay in helping them is caused by “the nature of the disease” instead of lack of coordination.
“The problem really is the nature of the disease. If you are tested now, you could test negative, in a few days later, you could test positive. So what we are doing now is in addition to the testing being done in Metro Manila, which is polymerase chain reaction (PCR), before being sent to the provinces, we have developed also the capability of the local government units outside of Manila to conduct their own PCR test, and that is why the local government upon receiving them, subject them to another test,” he said.
If you’re a stranded individual, “call Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) now, there is now a hotline for DSWD. Contact the local government unit because we have also asked the local government units through the DILG to extend assistance. And if they cannot, at least just to refer them to the DSWD,” he advised.
Roque, however, left out that the Office of the Vice President has been organizing free shuttle rides to bring stranded individuals home. “Patuloy ang pakikipagtulungan ng Tanggapan ni VP Leni Robredo sa mga lokal na pamahalaan upang makauwi sa kani-kanilang mga bayan at probinsya ang mga na-stranded nating kababayan. Nitong mga nagdaang linggo ay natulungan na natin ang umaabot sa 784 na locally stranded individuals (LSIs), kabilang na ang mga taga-Albay, Quezon Province, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Samar, at Masbate,” Robredo posted on Facebook on Jun. 14.
Silvertino was supposed to be part of the 784—a figure higher than the 379 individuals Roque reported sending home from the Villamor Air Base on Jun. 14—but unfortunately died on Jun. 5, just a day before she could undergo a swab test.
“[Adrian] Martinez of the city youth development office who was in charge of making arrangements for stranded people in Pasay City, had already arranged for Silvertino to undergo a swab test on Jun. 6 for her trip back home to Bicol region through buses provided by the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo,” writes an Inquirer.net report.