9,000 stranded college students may go home through Hatid Estudyante program
MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of college students, stranded for months due to the coronavirus lockdown, have the chance to go home through the government’s Hatid Estudyante program.
During a televised briefing on Wednesday, May 13, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said parents are not allowed to fetch their children who are stuck in other cities and regions even as some areas would have a relaxed community quarantine by Saturday, May 16.
"The movement of people are still limited and the parents can't just go to Metro Manila to fetch their children," Malaya said in Filipino.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said over 9,000 students are stranded in dormitories and schools nationwide, although CHED had been bringing home students since the enhanced community quarantine started two months ago.
"What is new is that DOTr (Department of Transportation) is aggressively mobilizing bus, rail, water and air transportation to bring students home,” CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III said.
Malaya advised stranded students to sign up for the Hatid Estudyante program through an online form, where they will be asked to provide personal details.
Students aged 18 and below, however, need to provide a letter indicating their parents' consent.
On Tuesday, May 12, Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Jay Santiago, who heads the program, said over 10,300 had signed up, and they were checking the list for duplicate entries.
De Vera said on Wednesday CHED’s regional offices were doing the inventory of the stranded students in close coordination with the higher education institutions, DOTr, the DILG, and the Department of Tourism.
In a televised press briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte would give cash aid to students enough for fare and food while traveling. – Rappler.com