“The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced on July 6, that MRT-3 operations would be suspended to make way for the swab testing of all its personnel for COVID-19. The suspension took effect on July 7, and was scheduled to last until July 11 or until the number of personnel necessary for limited MRT-3 operations tests negative for COVID-19.
“Testing of MRT-3 personnel will be conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) with assistance from the Red Cross, and positive cases will be sent to government quarantine facilities. Those who test negative, meanwhile, will take part in the resumption of operations.
“The MRT-3’s workforce is composed of more than 3,200 personnel, and the DOTr says it will take at least 1,300 employees for operations to resume. The agency added that the train line currently needs 964 additional ‘negative personnel’ to get going. In the meantime, commuters can utilize the agency’s Bus Augmentation Program and the new EDSA Busway service.”
Did you take the MRT-3 lately? Take note of the shifts of personnel who tested positive for COVID-19
“After temporarily shutting down MRT-3 operations, the management of the rail line has identified the workplaces and working times of its personnel who contracted the coronavirus.
“According to the DOTr, the working schedules of the said personnel were as follows:
- North Avenue station – 1pm to 11pm; 4:30pm to 2:30am
- Quezon Avenue station – 1pm to 11pm
- GMA-Kamuning station – 4:30am to 2:30pm
- Cubao station – 1pm to 11pm; 4:30pm to 2:30am
The agency is advising the passengers concerned to monitor their condition and self-quarantine at home to prevent the spread of the virus: “The MRT-3 management assures that it is doing the necessary measures to be able to maintain the health and safety of its employees and passengers.”
“MRT-3 management has announced that it has enough employees to resume limited operations on Monday, July 13.
“In its official statement, management said that 1,093 depot personnel and 1,010 station staff have already tested negative for the coronavirus. The MRT-3 needs at least 1,308 employees to operate in a limited capacity.
“A total of 12 train sets will take to the tracks come July 13, with trips set to begin at 5:30am from North Avenue station. Management is also reminding commuters that it will be strictly implementing contact tracing procedures, and will require passengers to fill up health declaration forms prior to trips.
“The MRT-3 team also announced that the Bus Augmentation Program will return to its regular schedule on Monday, with the first bus departing from North Avenue station and Taft Avenue station at 5:30am and the last one scheduled for 8pm. It added that 190 buses will ferry passengers between Monumento and the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) as part of the EDSA Busway Service.”
“Passengers riding the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) are now prohibited from talking inside trains to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) said on July 10.
“‘Knowing yung COVID-19, nata-transmit siya through droplets, another layer of protection is if walang nagsasalita, walang lalabas na droplets,’ LRMC corporate communications head Jacqueline Gorospe said in an interview with DobolB sa News TV. “‘We remind our passengers na kailangan po i-postpone muna yung call. Or if they need to talk, kailangan nakasuot ang mask.’
“To ensure this new policy is observed, marshals will roam the LRT.
“The pandemic has not come to a stop, and it has affected eight of the LRT’s personnel. Said employees underwent quarantine, with two to three already in recovery and nearing the completion of their 14-day quarantine.”
“The mayor recently took to social media to vent his frustration after several of his city’s traffic enforcers were reportedly caught driving either without licenses or with expired documents. The erring enforcers were ticketed and their vehicles were impounded.
“‘Sa wikang Ingles, may tinatawag tayong ‘impunity’—ang kawalan ng pananagutan para sa mga taong nasa posisyon o kapangyarihan,’ Sotto wrote, adding that enforcers getting away with violations will no longer be the norm.
“‘Kung tutuusin, mas mataas nga dapat ang standards ng mga kawani ng pamahalaan,’ the mayor stressed. ‘Ika nga, alisin mo muna ang troso sa mata mo bago mo sitahin ang puwing sa mata ng iyong kapwa.’”
“On July 7, The Medical City in Pasig City launched its drive-through COVID-19 testing center today. The program is in partnership with the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health.
“The private hospital is using the Enhanced Chemiluminescence Immunoassay (ECLIA) antibody test, where a sample of your blood is obtained for analysis. Like the rapid antibody test we usually hear about, this method of screening checks for antibodies that your body has developed as an immune response a week or so after you’ve contracted the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2. The difference is that the ECLIA antibody test promises 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity, according to The Medical City. The testing kit was globally certified by the US and Philippine Food and Drug Administration. It also checks if you’ve had the virus even as an asymptomatic patient based on the antibodies that you have.
“To get tested, you may either book an appointment through TMCcovidtest.com or just drop by at the parking area of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health as a walk-in client. Fasting prior to blood extraction is not necessary. You should stay inside your vehicle from arrival to departure, and each car should only have a maximum of six individuals that will be tested.”
“In the past few weeks, some local government units and motorcycle-taxi companies have come up with different designs for motorcycle-mounted protective shields that can help prevent the spread of coronavirus between riders and their passengers.
“The motorcycle-mounted protective shields prepared by these groups basically have the same design, composed of two poles (measuring three to four feet in height) attached to the bike’s chassis, with transparent plastic panels to separate the rider from the passenger. Each pole has a handle for the passenger to hold on to.
“On July 8, presidential spokesman Harry Roque announced that the IATF has approved the design of a protective shield submitted by Governor Arthur Yap of Bohol, and that the government agencies involved in the implementation of health protocols and the regulation of public transport are already in the process of formulating guidelines for pillion riding.
“‘Approved na yan in principle,’ Roque said.”
“In a letter addressed to National Task Force chairman Delfin Lorenzana, Senator Bong Revilla Jr.—himself a rider—pointed out that installing makeshift shields between a motorcycle rider and his passenger will most probably affect a rider’s balance. Revilla called the idea ‘fundamentally unsafe,’ saying balance is the most important factor when riding a motorbike.
“‘When you have a backrider, the weight has to be synchronized. As the rider weighs left, the backrider has to do the same or else there’s a high chance of crashing,’ the senator argued. ‘A divider between both riders will make this and balance very difficult as there will be no tactile feedback between them. That barrier will also impact aerodynamics greatly, also interfering [with] balance.’
“The senator also stressed that the barrier may lead to more accidents, and cause greater injuries in the event a mishap does occur. Instead of the barriers, Revilla suggested that the obligatory use of personal protective equipment and full-face helmets is a safer alternative.
“‘After all, both riders live in the same house where they interact in the same space without masks, share utensils, and at the end of day, sleep on the same bed. The installation of a barrier on motorcycles for the purpose of protecting them from each other seems unnecessary,’ he said.”
“During an interview with DZMM Teleradyo, Secretary Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government announced that starting July 10, backriding on motorycles would be allowed—but only for couples.
“‘Papayagan na natin yung backriding para sa mga couple, at yung prototype model [for protective shields between rider and passenger] na isinubmit ni Governor Art Yap ay approved na yan ng NTF (National Task Force). Ito yung pinaka-prototype na gagamitin natin,’ Año said.
“This means both married and unmarried couples living in the same household will be allowed to travel together, provided they can show proper identification to serve as proof.”
“July 10, the first day the government allowed married couples or couples living in the same house to ride a motorcycle together, was marked with confusion, and this prompted the Philippine National Police–Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) to defer arresting violators. Instead, personnel manning checkpoints opted to give riders a warning for violating the regulations set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
“There was a quite a big number of couples who hit the streets even though their motorbikes were not equipped with the protective shields required by the IATF. PNP-HPG personnel conducted a random inspection of the documents that would establish the rider and passenger’s relationship—marriage certificate, driver’s license, company IDs, and even wedding photos.
“‘Hinanapan natin sila ng identification na patunay na sila nga ay mag-asawa o mag-live-in partner,’ said PNP-HPG director Brig. Gen. Eliseo Cruz. Not even wedding rings will be accepted by the HPG as proof of the riders’ relationship. Live-in partners, on the other hand, will have to show documents that say they live under one roof.
“In their desire to go to work on a motorbike instead of spending hours waiting for public transportation, some pillion riders used improvised dividers made of cardboard or hard plastic tied to the rider’s vest.
“Although these riders were not cited for any violation of either traffic or quarantine policies, they were instructed to use the materials and the design of the prototype barrier submitted by Bohol governor Arthur Yap to the IATF. Cruz also reminded the riders to make sure that the brackets for the protective shield are properly mounted to ensure their safety.”
“This week, journalist and COVID-19 survivor Howie Severino was ‘arrested’ in Quezon City during an early morning bicycle ride and brought to Amoranto Stadium for a seminar. His crime was...having a drink?
“Well, technically, the offense he was apprehended for was not having his face mask on in public. According to Severino, though, he only pulled down his mask so he could have a drink.
“To make matters worse, Severino described the seminar as a ‘super spreader event,’ with hundreds of people milling about. Kind of counterproductive to have people caught not wearing masks converge in one place, isn’t it? Fortunately for Severino, he had already developed antibodies after getting and recovering from the coronavirus—something which probably cannot be said of the other people hauled to the seminar.
“‘If anyone were to ask me, I would say that this punitive approach may even increase the risk of infection by unnecessarily creating mass gatherings of people who were stopped from earning a living or taking care of kids or doing other essential things,’ Severino wrote in the Facebook post linked above. ‘Why not instead give on the spot lectures with visual aids and distribute masks to those without one?’
“Severino’s bike was eventually returned and he was allowed to go home. The journalist labeled his experience as ‘another misguided policy.’
“‘I’m not worried about myself since I’ve developed antibodies as a recovered COVID-19 patient. But all those people taken from their jobs and put in the same place for the day are exposed to possible infection, defeating the purpose of this punitive approach to a public health problem,’ he stressed.”
“More expressways are set to rise in Metro Manila in a few years, as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) have just broken ground for two new segments of the C5 South Link Expressway.
“Segment 3A-1 of this expressway was inaugurated back in July 2019. The new roads to be constructed—namely Segments 2 and 3A-2—will serve as the last few pieces of the entire 7.7km road network.
“Segment 2 is a 1.9km expressway that will extend from the R-1 Expressway in Parañaque to the Sucat interchange. Segment 3A-2, meanwhil, is a 1.6km stretch from the RSG Subdivision to Merville and connects directly to Segment 3A-1. The two new segments are both slated to complete by the second quarter of 2022.
“These two new segments will further connect the cities of Makati and Taguig to areas such as Parañaque, Las Piñas, and Cavite. The only remaining portion of the C5 South Link Expressway that has yet to begin construction is Segment 3B—MPTC expecting this to commence by the second quarter of 2021.”