Commuters in Metro Manila may soon be forced to stay at home after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is considering a total ban on public transportation for the duration of the community quarantine in Metro Manila.
In a message on Monday, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Communications Goddes Hope Libiran said the DOTr and the rest of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will study the possibility of a ban which could cover not only public transportation going in and out of Metro Manila, but all public transportation units in the region.
“Sabi nga ni (As said by) Secretary [Arthur] Tugade, DOTr, at this time, is not in this to arrange or assure mobility. We are here to encourage people to stay at home. This is temporary and they should understand this. Buhay ang nakataya dito (Lives are at stake),” Libiran wrote.
The move, she said, is being considered due to rampant violations of the DOTr’s guidelines on social distancing, among others, on public transportation as prescribed by the country’s health officials.
“Napakaraming kasing pasaway, matigas ang ulo, pilosopo at makasarili (There are too many trouble-makers, hard-headed, smart-mouths, and selfish people),” Libiran said.
She said the IATF-EID will soon meet to study the possibility of the ban which will later be recommended for approval of President Rodrigo Duterte.
On Saturday, the DOTr released its guidelines on social distancing and community quarantine on the entire public transport sector.
The guidelines require most public utility vehicles to reduce its total seating capacity by half and for passengers to place themselves “one seat apart” from each other, among other measures promoting social distancing in all forms of transportation.
Following the enforcement of the guidelines, netizens claimed there were PUVs who charged more than the usual fare, while others disregarded the guidelines and took in more than the allowable number of passengers aside from other violations.
Due to the lessened number of passengers and fears brought by the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, many public transport operators also announced a suspension of operations following the declaration of a community quarantine set to last until April 14.
On Sunday evening, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board announced its designation of five land terminals as public transportation gateways in and out of Metro Manila.
These gateways include the Bayani Fernando Central Terminal in Marikina City, the North Luzon Expressway Terminal in Bocaue, Bulacan, the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange, the terminal at Robinsons Fairview, and the Santa Rosa Integrated Terminal in Santa Rosa, Laguna. (PNA)