President Duterte has offered to pay for the food and accommodation of stranded travelers camping outside the airport but asked concerned authorities to keep the expenses low.
The President has reminded Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to bring the locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to a temporary shelter where they can wait for their next flight home.
“I would like to remind before I close, si General Año, to gather all, to gather all na naghihintay ng pasa — na walang matulugan, walang matirahan at nandiyan sa labas ng NAIA or whatever sa airport, you will be transported to a place. I will pay, you just bill me pati pagkain,” he said in a televised public address Tuesday night.
The President however advised against splurging on food for the stranded passengers due to the government’s limited budget.
“We are in a crisis and let us keep our senses close to the ground,” he added.
The President also ordered Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to remove some of the restaurants at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals to provide seats for stranded passengers.
He said it has been bothering him to see on TV photos and videos of stranded airline passengers sleeping in waiting sheds and sidewalks near the airport.
He ordered Tugade to terminate the contracts of the restaurants, particularly those serving expensive food, and place more seats to accommodate the passengers.
“Makita mo walang upuan. Kakaunti ang upuan tapos ‘pag na-delay ang flight p***** i** wala na, tindigan na lahat. Sa labas may mga restaurant, ang lalayo ng table. Eh ilan lang man ang gumagamit, ‘yung may pera lang,” he said.
The government has temporarily suspended the return of stranded travelers to their hometowns in Western Visayas, Cebu Island, Mactan, Eastern Visayas and Caraga region.
The moratorium was imposed since these areas don’t have enough quarantine facilities yet to accommodate the returning residents.
The return of the travelers to their hometowns was among the factors that reportedly led to the increase in coronavirus cases in the provinces. (Genalyn Kabiling, Argyll Geducos)