DOTr eyes transporting stranded students from Metro Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 5) — The Department of Transportation said Tuesday it will coordinate with other government agencies on how students who have been stranded in dormitories and schools in Metro Manila could be sent back to their hometowns and provinces.

The department said it will propose to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases the "Hatid Estudyante" program intended for the safe return of students stranded in their campuses, apartments, and dormitories, to their respective hometowns.

"Once approved by the IATF, we will immediately launch this program. Thus, we are already preparing," Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.

Tugade said he has already assigned Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Jay Santiago, Undersecretary for Aviation and Airports Manuel Antonio Tamayo, and Assistant Secretary For Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark de Leon to supervise and implement the program.

In his sixth weekly report late Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte cited an online survey conducted by the Commission on Higher Education which found that 9,637 students were stranded in schools across the country due to the implementation of community quarantine in their respective areas. Meanwhile, 1,229 students and educational institution personnel overseas were also in need of repatriation.

The CHED noted that 142 of those overseas have already been repatriated, while 45 stranded students in Boracay will be transported back to their hometowns.

The CHED previously said 64 students supposed to take their on-the-job-training in Boracay were stranded on the island but not all were flown home due to limited flight availability. The 45 students were transported to Metro Manila via sweeper flights organized by the Department of Tourism, and those from provinces will be transported onward to their hometowns.

The remaining students will stay in Boracay until a flight is available. The students' colleges will handle their transport from Metro Manila to their respective provinces.

The agency said that it will continue to monitor stranded students nationwide.

For the meantime, affected students may enroll in an online program in order for the government to know how many should be ferried and to what locations. Data will then be collated and categorized and will be presented for IATF approval.

Students must indicate their personal details, current location, destination, health declaration, and upload a copy of their school ID or proof of enrollment, with corresponding parental consent to be tested for COVID-19.

Students may sign up here.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Luzon under the enhanced community quarantine last March 17 in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

All modes of public transportation were put to a halt, while non-essential establishments were ordered to close down to limit movement. Physical classes were also suspended in schools to prevent infection among students.

The Philippines has 9,485 COVID-19 cases to date, with 1,315 recoveries and 623 deaths.