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BAGUIO CITY – Close to 201 stranded Muslim students and tourists were able to safely go back to their places of origin over the past several days through the efforts of the Cordillera office of the Land Transportation Office (LTO-CAR) in partnership with concerned government agencies and responsible bus companies.
LTO-CAR regional director Francis Ray Almora said that of the said number of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) in the city who were affected by the implementation of the Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), some 175 individuals are LSIS from Mindanao where some of them are students of the Al-Maarif Education Center based in the city while 26 of them are stranded tourists from different parts of the country.
He disclosed that the 175 LSIs mostly from Cagayan de Oro City and other parts of Mindanao were brought home in partnership with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and bus companies plying the Baguio-Manila route under the agency’s Hatid Estudyante program.
“We were lucky that we have responsible bus company operators who are willing to provide the needed transportation requirements of our stranded students and tourists. We hope that we will be able to sustain our partnership so that our stranded individuals will be able to rejoin their families in their places of origin,” Director Almora stressed.
For his part, NCMF regional director Abel Macarimpas said that majority of the stranded students under the Arabic learning institution who are studying Islamic theology were able to go home to their places in Mindanao after reportedly passing the swab test that was
Almora expressed his gratitude to the management of Victory liner and Genesis Transport Corporation for heeding the call from the agency and the NCMF to provide the required transportation to ferry the LSIs to Metro Manila for them to take the earliest possible trip to their places.
The LTO-CAR official explained that the agency embraced the Hatid Estudyante and the Hatid Torista programs to extend the needed assistance to LSIs in the different parts of the region to be able to rejoin their families in the different parts of the country after being trapped following the suspension of the operation of mass public transportation during the ECQ implementation in Luzon.
According to him, the LTO-CAR will continue coordinating with different associations in the region to ascertain the presence of LSIs so that appropriate arrangements could be done with bus companies that are interested to render public service and provide stranded individuals with their transportation requirements for them to be able to go back to their places.
Aside from arranging the transportation requirements for LSIs in the different parts of the region, the LTO district offices are now catering to their licensing and registration duties and responsibilities to address the backlog that was created by the ECQ implementation and the ongoing transition from MGCQ to the new normal situation. Because of the outstanding policy on physical distancing to prevent their clients from contracting the deadly virus.