Govt. admits lapses in handling locally stranded individuals at Rizal stadium

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 28) — Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday acknowledged the lapses in implementing physical distancing among thousands of locally stranded individuals waiting for government-provided rides back to their home provinces last week.

“Bulag naman ako kung sasabihin kong walang pagkakamali dun. Meron pong pagkakamali doon,” Roque said in a briefing.

[Translation: I am blind if I say that no mistake was committed there. There was a mistake.]

“Dapat po iyon nagkaroon ng sistema na bagama’t maraming tao doon sa Rizal Memorial stadium, dapat siniguro po ang social distancing,”

[Translation: There should been a system even though the Rizal Memorial was crowded, social distancing should have been enforced.]

Last July 25 and 26, stranded individuals, including those who were not initially part of the list of people scheduled to go home that weekend, filled the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila. The surge of people made it impossible to maintain a safe distance from each other.

They are beneficiaries of the government’s Hatid Tulong program.

Hatid Tulong project head Joseph Encabo earlier appealed for understanding after photos of locally stranded individuals at the crowded Rizal Memorial went viral, saying that they were left with no choice but to cram all of them together as they were in dire need of proper shelter.