DOTR wants to bring home students stranded in dorms

Aika Rey
DOTR wants to bring home students stranded in dorms
To join the program, which is subject for approval of the government task force on the coronavirus outbreak, students will have to fill up a Google Form which will determine the number of students and destinations to be accommodated

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTR) wants to bring home students who have been stranded in dorms and apartments around the country because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The DOTr said on Tuesday, May 5, said it will propose the “Hatid Estudyante” program to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Under the proposed program, students who had to stay in dormitories and apartments because of the coronavirus lockdown would be taken home to their respective hometowns.

The DOTr said it has set up an “online enrollment platform” where students will have to fill in personal details such as name, address, guardian’s name, school ID photo, and parental consent for minors, allowing them to be tested for coronavirus. To join the proposed program, students may fill the Google Form here.

“Let us take care of the stranded students and bring them home through air, land, and sea travel,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

DOTr said the data gathered would be used to “determine the feasibility of the program,” which will be presented to the IATF.

Philippine Ports Authority general manager Jay Santiago, Aviation Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo, and Road Transport Assistant Secretary Mark de Leon will surpervise the program.

“We will be starting this Hatid-Estudyante Program for these stranded students and come up with an online platform for them to enroll in the program so that we will know how many we need to ferry and to what locations,” Santiago said.

Earlier initiative

On Friday, May 3, 45 students stranded in Boracay managed to get on sweeper flights organized by the Department of Tourism and the Commission on Higher Education.

Over a month before the government mulled the program, the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB) had already taken the initiative to help its stranded students get home. 

Since March 19 or after Luzon was placed on lockdown, UPLB implemented its Oplan Hatid program to bring home its students who were staying in and outside university-administered dormitories, in batches.

OPLAN HATID. The University of the Philippines in Los Baños prepares to brings home 58 students to Isabela on May 1, 2020. Photo from the UPLB Community Affairs Facebook page

UPLB announced on Monday, May 4, that it will next send stranded students on flights to Mindanao, particularly Surigao del Sur.

Classes were suspended since Metro Manila, followed by Luzon and other parts of the country, were placed on lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. UP ended the semester on April 30.

The Department of Education said on Tuesday that classes will open on August 24.

President Rodrigo Duterte first imposed a lockdown on Metro Manila on March 15. The President later expanded this quarantine policy to include the entire island region of Luzon on March 17. Other provinces, cities, and municipalities in Visayas and Mindanao followed suit and imposed local quarantine policies within their jurisdictions.

Starting May 1, the President said that only Metro Manila and other high-risk areas will remain under the enhanced community quarantine, while others were downgraded to the more relaxed “general community quarantine.” The total lockdown in Metro Manila is set to end on May 15, unless extended. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.