Cotabato City—Some 414 locally stranded individuals (LSI) from Manila would have yet to spend more days in their journey back home, as the vessel chartered by the government to ferry them to Zamboanga City had instead dropped them off in Cagayan de Oro City Port on Tuesday.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, interior and local government minister of the Bangsamoro Region, said the vessel MV St. Pope John Paul was contracted by the government under the Hatid Tulong Probinsiya Program to transport the LSIs to Zamboanga, the nearest port city to their home provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Efforts proved futile to reach the management of the chartered vessel for explanation. Neither has it issued a statement as to why the vessel captain had to divert its port-of-call. MV St. Pope John Paul is owned by 2-Go Shipping Lines, is a subsidiary of the Cebu City-based Aboitiz Company, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto Adiong promptly sent his staff working for the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to respond to the needs of the locally stranded persons.
Sinarimbo said the Hatid Tulong Probinsya Program apparently lacked ground works with LGUs of the home provinces of the stranded persons.
“I cannot understand why this Hatid Tulong Probinsya has not made sufficient ground works to ensure that the provinces are prepared to receive the LSIs or at least the drop off points are in the actual provinces of the LSIs or are reasonably near thereof,” Sinarimbo pointed out.
Jennie Alonto Tamano, head of the Provincial Information Office, said the LSIs were hosted in Cagayan de Oro City by the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP).
The provincial government of Lanao del Sur and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) were catering to their needs including daily meals.
Of the 414 LSIs, 301 are residents of Basilan, 79 of Sulu and 34 are of Tawi-Tawi.
“As Muslims and public servants, it is our duty to ensure that we provide assistance to our fellowmen at any time and wherever they may be should they need it,” Governor Adiong said.
“The 2017 Marawi siege experience taught us the importance of immediately responding to the needs of our people because we know how it feels to be hopeless and helpless in times of crisis.”
Alonto-Tamano said the PDRRMO staff checked on their condition, and distributed dinner and water to them. They were also given breakfast this morning by the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur.
The LSIs will be taken to Zamboanga City today or tomorrow upon the arrival of 17 buses hired by the BARMM,” she said.
“The BARMM government is being thankful the Cagayan de Oro LGU, as well as the provincial government of Lanao del Sur, and the USTP for accommodating the LSIs.” Sinarimbo said.
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