Random Thoughts

Watching out for returning LSIs, OFWs

By Leonardo Micua


I and many others had goose bumps upon seeing the raid by the CIDG on Facebook  of a computer shop in Quezon City suspected to be faking and selling negative RT-PCR results supposedly coming from a licensed laboratory.

This to my mind is a very serious matter that needs to be looked into otherwise all our efforts to rein in the contagion of the  coronavirus will  just go to naught.

I suspect that the syndicate selling fake negative RT-PCR results with the signature of a supposed pathologist was purposely targeting Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI) who are in a hurry to get to the provinces and don’t want to spend for the expensive RT-PCR tests.

The LSIs have to present negative RT-PCR result, in addition to a medical certificate and a travel permit from the police to qualify for a free bus ride to the provinces. Since a swab for RT-PCR confirmation costs about P4,000, it is cheaper for the LSI to buy “negative results“ from the computer shop.

It is shocking that in the midst of the pandemic, there are persons who would  exploit the situation and take advantage of their weary, hungry fellowmen desperate to get back to their respective provinces where they expect life with their relatives can hopefully be better.

This also poses serious risks to many. If the LSI is actually COVID-19 positive, but presents a fake  RT-PCR negative as his passport to the province, he will infect everyone in his family and anyone with whom he had close contact.

The spike in a confirmed COVID-19 transmission in Pangasinan gave rise to suspicion that it was the LSIs who faked their way to the province brought the unseen virus here.

Fortunately, the provincial government under Gov. Amado Espino III instituted a protocol subjecting all arriving LSIs to PHO–administered RT-PCR test to establish their true conditions.

As we can not deny LSIs and OFWs their right to return to their respective homes, their return also pose serious risks spreading the virus in their communities. It is, therefore, imperative for government agencies to require all returning LSIs and OFWs to go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine backed by documents and permits allowed them to travel.

The sight of LSIs crammed for days at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila while awaiting free rides back home to their respective provinces illustrate the serious risks they pose when they reach Pangasinan.

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We are spending a lot of efforts and resources to contain the coronavirus, but we can’t deny the fact that there are more people dying from dengue than COVID-19.

To date, we only have 11 persons that died from COVID-19 (2 from Dagupan, 9 from other towns). If we continue to neglect our environment, we could be creating a situation for the dengue-carrying mosquitoes to multiply.

It is rainy season again, expect floodwater and stagnant waters in many areas pose threats for dengue and leptospirosis.

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Since ABS-CBN was shut down by Congress, coverage of local scenes beamed for tri-regional audience is left in the hands of GMA Balitang Amianan. (Channel 5 and PTV 4 have yet to build regional infrastructures in Pangasinan)

While this GMA monopoly of viewership, it was not by design but brought about by fate of ABS-CBN. I can only sympathize with ABS-CBN employees whom we used to see in news beats, who are without jobs.

During martial law years, I was one among those who held office at the ABS-CBN building on A.B. Fernandez Avenue East where I set up the then regional bureau of the PNA. That was after my stint as chief of the Northern Luzon bureau based in Baguio during my younger days.

More on this in my next column.

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