The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is requesting local government units (LGUs) to spare locally stranded individuals (LSIs) from excessive or exorbitant fees for the issuance of medical certificates needed for them to go back to their home province.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that they have received reports that some LGUs are requiring LSIs to pay as much as P3,000 in exchange for medical certificates. He said that such reports are now under investigation emphasizing that if said information is true, “it is an injustice to the stranded individuals who just want to go home to their provinces.”
“Huwag na po nating singilin pa ng pagkamahal-mahal ang ating mga kababayan na gusto lamang makauwi sa kanilang mga probinsiya. Kung puwede ngang libre na lang dahil wala naman lab tests na gagawin. Huwag na natin silang pahirapan as they have suffered enough kaya nga nila hinahangad na makauwi na,” he said.
He said that the DILG is requesting all mayors to review their schedule of fees during this time of COVID and only charge minimal fees as a public service.
“Gusto nang umuwi ng mga LSI dahil wala na nga po silang pantustos sa kanilang pang-araw-araw dahil sila nga po ay stranded. Kung stranded na nga po sila tapos hihingan pa po natin sila ng napakalaking halaga ay parang wala naman po tayong malasakit,” Año explained.
He said that LSIs must only secure medical certificate and travel authority to be able to go back to their province. He says that medical certificates must be requested from the health office of the LGU emphasizing that LSI do not need to undergo COVID-19 rapid test or a PCR, provided they have no symptoms or is not a PUM/PUI.
“Itong medical certificate ay nagsasaad lamang na hindi kayo contact, suspect, or a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, and also have undergone 14-day quarantine based on the protocols of the Department of Health,” he said.
After securing a medical certificate, LSIs can now apply for travel authority at the help desk of the police station in the locality.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya, meanwhile, said that as the national government implements the ‘Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa’ program, the smooth transit and return of LSIs is a priority.
According to the National Housing Authority, at least one million Metro Manila residents are expected to participate in the Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa program where more than 33,000 LSIs have already enrolled.
“The government anticipates millions of Filipinos will avail of this program kaya inaasahan po namin ang tulong ng lahat ng mga LGUs,” Malaya said.
Individuals who are interested to enroll in the said program may do so at www.balikprobinsya.ph.
Meanwhile, he also urged those who paid excessive fees for their medical certificate to report it to the DILG and Philippine National Police (PNP) hotlines. “Kung mayroon pong reports na ganito, ipaalam po ninyo agad sa amin sa DILG at PNP so that we can call the attention of the LGU.”
He further said that queries regarding travel authority can be addressed by the Joint Task Force COVID Shield headed by P/General Guillermo Eleazar. “At para naman po doon sa may mga katanungan tungkol sa travel authority na ang mag-iissue ay ang Joint Task Force COVID Shield, mayroon pong mga hotline na 09988940013 at 09175382495.”