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BONTOC, Mountain Province – Eighty two residents of Bontoc, Mountain Province who were stranded in Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet since the placement of the entire Luzon to Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) on March 16, 2020 were able to come home on May 13, 2020 under the Oplan Suma-ar Program of Bontoc and will soon be united with their families after completion of the 14-day quarantine.
The Oplan Suma-ar Program of Bontoc is the localized “Balik Probinsya” of the national government initiated and conceptualized by the Bontoc Local Government Unit (LGU) even before the release of Balik Probinsya issuance. The Oplan Suma-ar Program of Bontoc is first in Mountain Province of which the other municipalities followed and adopted.
Municipal Local Government Operations Officer (MLGOO) Lourdes Claire Peel presented the idea to Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey in anticipation of the influx of returning Bontoc residents in case the ECQ will be lifted. Since the placement of Luzon to ECQ status and the shifting of Mountain Province to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status, there have been persistent clamors of Bontoc constituents stranded in other places specifically students, workers, and applicants to come home to Bontoc.
Mayor Odsey immediately agreed with the proposal and convened the Municipal Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) to plan the repatriation effort. It was agreed upon by the Municipal IATF that the Bontoc LGU shall the transportation of stranded residents in Baguio City-Benguet area who will register in the Oplan Suma-ar Program, provided that they agree to be quarantined for 14 days, their family shall provide their food ration during the quarantine period, and they comply with the GCQ and LGU protocols.
Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey said that the repatriation of Bontoc residents stranded in Baguio City and La Trinidad materialized with the assistance and support from the City Government of Baguio and Municipal Government of La Trinidad under the leadership of City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Mayor Romeo Salda, respectively. Also, Benguet State University (BSU) President Feliciano Calora, Jr., approved the request of the Bontoc LGU for the utilization of the BSU Parking Area at Strawberry Farm as the pick-up point for repatriates stranded in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Municipal Health Officer Dr. Diga Kay Gomez and Development Management Officer IV Clint Gil Ildefonso of Department of Health (DOH) –Provincial Office coordinated with their health counterparts for the issuance of Health Declaration Certificates of the first batch of repatriates.
The repatriates were triaged by the midwives and were ferried by the barangay officials to the barangay-designated and BHS-accredited quarantine facilities. All other repatriates were brought at the basement of the Municipal Capitol where they were triaged by the staff of the Rural Health Unit (RHU) and those employed under the Nurse Deployment Program of the DOH.
The 82 repatriates are now undergoing the 14-day quarantine period at LGU-identified and/or accredited Quarantine Facilities and Isolation Areas. Prior to the repatriation day, 127 individuals have confirmed to the Bontoc Local Government Unit (LGU) of their interest to avail of the Oplan Suma-ar Program and were able to fill -up the online Registration Form. However of them, those who did not appear during the repatriation opted to stay where they are and decided not to come home to Bontoc.
As of press time, the Bontoc LGU-identified Quarantine Facilities has a total of 56 bed capacities which are now being utilized by the first batch of Oplan Suma-ar repatriates.
The repatriates in the outskirt barangays of Bontoc are undergoing 14-day quarantine in the barangay-designated and BHS-accredited quarantine facilities including vacant houses certified and accredited after inspection and assessment by Barangay Health Stations in consonance to Department of Health guidelines.
For some repatriates residing in central barangays of Bontoc, they are undergoing the 14-day Quarantine in houses certified and accredited by RHU in consonance to DOH guidelines.
The Repatriation Team who traveled to La Trinidad, Benguet and Baguio City are MLGOO Lourdes Claire Peel, Administrative Officer IV Oliver Gacusana and Nurse I Achilles Feckleng, Jr. who are both staff of the RHU, and Clarence Dalog who volunteered to ferry the team using his private car.
Meanwhile, for stranded Bontoc residents in other places, they received cash assistance of P1,500.00 each.
By Alpine L. Killa