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Michelle Silvertino: The Filipino woman dies after waiting days on bus under the coronavirus lock



Michelle Silvertino, 33, was found unconscious on a footbridge along a main road in the capital Manila on June 5.

The mother of four had tried to take a bus to her home in Calabanga, Camarines Sur Province – more than 400 kilometers southeast of Manila (250 miles) – but due to Covid-19 quarantine measures, no public transport functioned, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.

Silvertino walked from Quezon City, just north of Manila, to Pasay City in the south, hoping to make a trip from there, CNN Philippines reported. But it turned out to be pointless and she was stranded on a pedestrian bridge for several days, where she was found unconscious and later declared dead at the hospital.

Her death sparked outrage in the Philippines and the hashtag #JusticeforMichelleSilvertino trended on Twitter. People across the country have joined the social media campaign demanding justice and criticizing the government for not doing enough to help stranded workers like Silvertino.

In March, the Philippines adopted strict measures to lock down coronaviruses that included shutting down public transport on the island of Luzon, which includes the metropolitan area of ​​Metro Manila, and residents were ordered to stay home.
After nearly 80 days, those restrictions in the capital began to ease on June 1
, and public transport had to be partially resumed, according to CNN Philippines. However, buses traveling between provinces are still prohibited.

Silvertino’s difficulties are shared by many Filipino workers who were stranded during the lockdown because they could not travel home due to the restrictions.

CNN Philippines reported that hundreds of stranded passengers camped under a freeway near Manila International Airport on Thursday after their flight was canceled.

“We’re like beggars here. All we want is to go home to our families,” a passenger told the news agency.

However, the outcry over Silvertino’s death reached the presidential palace and on Thursday the government announced that it would help stranded workers in the country to return home.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement that Silvertino’s situation would not be repeated and the social services and transport departments will help those gathered at bus stops and airports.

“Nobody wanted this to happen, but we will now take steps to ensure that what happened to Michelle will not happen again. We have a new policy to help anyone stranded at airports and bus terminals,” he said Roque.

The statement added that stranded workers will undergo rapid tests for Covid-19 before finding transport.


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