"The health of everyone is at stake."
The crammed crowd of thousands of locally stranded passengers—more than 8,000 as reports have it—inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex these few days is a giant turnoff, at the minutest frame.
Beyond the alphabet, the protocols and strict restrictions imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infections Diseases have been shamelessly and openly violated, with social distancing forgotten and swept under the rug.
While the government imposes these protocols, this is the same government that violates these protocols while the number of infections and deaths are rising, the recorded recoveries despite.
Last Saturday and Sunday, these 8,000 plus stranded—sadly only a few wearing face masks—who have been stuck in the national capital due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, were set to be transported by the government to their respective home provinces under the government's “Hatid Tulong” program.
We commiserate with Hatid Tulong program head Joseph Encabo who has appealed for public compassion for the LSIs (locally stranded individuals) packed inside the sports stadium, social distancing already disregarded.
But, properly, such compassion can be raised posthaste if the enemy the government is fighting against is something that can be seen by the naked eye.
And then we put thousands—women, children, men and the elderly—inside a sports stadium where the protocols are not enforced, giving the high possibility of infections and, God forbid, death and eventual cremation far beyond the eye range of the nearest of kin.
We agree with suggestions that there should be swab testing instead of just rapid testing before they are sent back to their home provinces to avoid, under any and all circumstances, infections in their destinations.
At the same time, the national government should schedule bus trips by province or region and quickly conduct tests in housing facilities for LSIs.
Nothing can be less. The health of everyone is at stake.