The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to set up help desks in all police stations nationwide to help locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that help desks in municipal, city, provincial, and regional police stations and offices should process applications for travel authorities from concerned individuals who wish to return to their residence after being stranded in different areas due to the community quarantine.
The creation of help desks is provided under the operational guidelines on the management of LSIs and ROFs issued by the National Task Force Against Covid-19. Under the guidelines, a stranded individual must secure a Medical Certificate from the Municipal or City Health Office and a Travel Authority from the PNP before he may be allowed to travel.
"Gusto nating bigyan ng pagkakataon na magkasama na ang mga nagkahiwalay na pamilya dahil sa quarantine. So para mapabilis ang proseso, inaatasan ko ang PNP na magtalaga ng help desk sa lahat ng police stations sa buong bansa,” Año said.
He said that only those with medical certificates from the LGU can apply for a Travel Authority with the PNP Help Desks.
LSIs include foreign nationals or Filipino citizens such as construction and domestic workers, tourists, students, and other individuals stranded in various localities while in transit and who have expressed intention to return to their place of residence or home origin.
On the other hand, ROFs refer to Filipinos who are returning to the Philippines from abroad. They include Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), whether documented or non-documented and non-OFWs. The latter includes returning students, exchange visitor's program, returning Filipino diplomats, returning Filipino tourists, participants of Philippine government-sponsored programs such as trainings and scholarships, and dependents and accompanying foreign spouses.
Under the guidelines, the Chief of Police is responsible for issuing travel authorities to LSIs/ROFs from a barangay moving to another barangay belonging to the same municipality. The travel authority shall be issued by the Provincial Police Director for LSIs/ROFs from a town municipality or city moving to another municipality/city of a different province. The Police Regional Director shall grant travel authorities for LSIs/ROFs from a province going to another province, and from a region to another region.
The DILG Chief clarified that before issuing a travel authority, the LSI or ROF should present a medical clearance/certificate issued by the city/municipal health office that he/she is neither a contact, suspect, probable, or confirmed Covid-19 case, and has completed the 14-day quarantine. Such medical clearance shall be presented to the PNP help desks, at all checkpoints, and at the LGU of final destination.
As for ROFs, they should present a travel authority issued by the JTF CV Shield and a negative RT-PCR result and Quarantine Certification issued by the DOH's Bureau of Quarantine at Quarantine Control Points (QCPs) or upon entry at the receiving LGU.
Año said the requirement of the certificate of acceptance of the receiving LGU is no longer required because the travel authority and the list of LSIs and ROFs shall already be forwarded to the receiving LGUs for their ready reference.
"Hawak-hawak ninyo kailangan iyong medical certificate ninyo at inyong travel authority from the PNP at iyan po ay tatanggapin ng lahat ng checkpoints seaports, airports sa buong bansa basta may hawak na po kayong ganyan," he said.
For inquiries regarding guidelines for LSIs and ROFs, the public may get in touch with the PNP Command Center through 09988490013 for Smart users and 09175382495 for Globe subscribers.
Role of LGUs
In DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2020-087, provincial governors are urged to organize their 'Management of ROFs and LSIs Sub-Cluster' under the Local Task Force (LTF) against COVID 19 Governance Cluster.
Governors will endorse the list of LSls to the Regional Task Force (RTF) for further action and possible assistance. They would also provide necessary assistance to component city or municipality in transporting or receiving ROFs and LSIs.
"Local chief executives are reminded that they should not deny the entry or transit of all ROFs and LSIs but may, in coordination with the RTF, establish its health protocols for ROFs and LSIs that are consistent with Interagency Task Force (IATF) policies," said the DILG Chief.
LGUs should provide the necessary assistance, such as food and transportation support to ROFs and LSIs.
"The government understands the plight of the LSIs and ROFs that they are displaced from their home province amid this crisis. It is only right under human consideration that they are assisted in going home to their families while we ensure safety health protocols," he said.