Note: The image above is a file photo from our archives.
Metro Manila’s community quarantine period is off to a rough and possibly dangerous start.
Commuters in some areas of the nation’s capital were greeted this morning by large crowds and a lack of social distancing enforcement by authorities. While it appears distance between passengers was maintained inside rail line stations and some public utility vehicles (PUV), posts on social media show commuters tightly packed while waiting for rides and lining up outside stations and terminals. Look:
No doubt that the passenger limits imposed on PUVs have added to the amount of time commuters have to wait for rides. Public buses, for example, are currently limited to 25 passengers including the driver and conductor. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has also released an advisory barring PUV operators from discontinuing their services without the agency’s approval.
“Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) personnel are inspecting terminals from time to time. I understand LTFRB already released an advisory saying operators cannot just shut down services without their approval,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) assistant secretary for communication and commuter affairs Goddes Hope Libiran said.
“The purpose of this community quarantine is to discourage movement of people to prevent the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, ang daming hindi sumusunod. Best way is for people to stay at home if their travels are non-essential naman,” the official added.
Libiran also stressed that some PUV drivers may be afraid to service the public because of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, or discouraged because of the government-imposed passenger limits affecting their fares. She added these issues will be discussed during the next Inter-Agency Task Force (I-ATF) meeting.
“Yes, but we also have to consider the sentiments of operators and drivers. Yung iba, ayaw pumasada dahil takot sa COVID-19. Yung iba naman, ayaw pumasada dahil malulugi. Yung iba, ayaw pumasada dahil ayaw sumunod sa social distancing measures,” she said.
“Those things are being noted and considered. These will be raised sa IATF meetings.”
Let’s hope the government can get public transportation in order sooner rather than later. In this situation, the earlier authorities can get their act together, the better.