MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday vowed to assist locally stranded individuals (LSIs) amid limited operation of public transport as it mourned the passing of Michelle Silvertino, a woman who died while waiting for a bus ride home to Bicol.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he was “shocked” and “saddened” to hear about the death of Silvertino, a single mother of four children ages three to 11.

“Nakikiramay po kami doon sa pamilya ni Michelle Silvertino (We express our sympathies to the family of Michelle). Wala pong gustong mangyari ito pero gagawa na po tayo ng hakbang para hindi na po maulit ang nangyari kay Michelle (Nobody wanted this to happen but we will take all steps to ensure that this will not happen again),” he said in a virtual briefing.

Describing Silvertino’s death as an “eye-opener” on the plight of LSIs, Roque said the government has put in place measures to guarantee that they are safe amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, hindi po tayo bulag sa paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan at ayaw na ayaw po ni Presidente iyan kaya po aksyon kaagad (Do not worry, the government is not blind to the plight of our citizens. The President doesn’t want that and will immediately take action),” he said.

Roque said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will send LSIs to the Villamor Golf Course in Pasay City for rapid testing while they wait for their bus ride or flight home.

He urged local government units (LGUs) to assist LSIs around bus stations and airports by immediately informing the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) upon seeing them.

The DSWD has already started assisting stranded individuals last week, he added.

He also advised LSIs to coordinate with the DSWD and their field offices for food and temporary accommodation as they wait for the availability of transportation.

Locally stranded individuals may also contact the DSWD Crisis Intervention Unit at 8734-8635.

He, meanwhile, warned the public against illegal recruiters whose intention is to victimize those seeking work abroad.

“Mag-ingat po tayo sa ganiyan, huwag po tayong maniwala, huwag tayong magtiwala (Let us be cautious, let’s not easily believe, let’s not easily trust),” he said.

He denied reports that there were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were forced to sleep under the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Skyway while waiting for transportation.

OFWs receive “VIP treatment”, stayed in quarantine facilities and hotels, and do not have to spend a single cent for their hospital costs, he said.

Reports showed that Silvertino, 33, who worked as a housemaid in Antipolo, Rizal was found unconscious at a footbridge along Edsa in Pasay City.

After experiencing high fever and shortness of breath, she was brought to the hospital but died on arrival. She underwent a swab test, but the results remain unknown. (PNA)