(June 2, 2020) – The public blasted transportation officials over lack of planning as commuter buses, jeepneys and utility vehicles were banned on the roads, forcing returning workers to walk or take hours to reach their workplaces on the first day of further easing the restrictions in the capital.
Millions of Filipinos returned to work on June 1 after Metro Manila transitioned into a general community quarantine,
(GCQ), two months and a half after staying indoors to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Those who were lucky to have been accommodated by P2P buses and trains also have to queue for hours as capacity is limited to practice social and physical distancing.
An emphatic Senator Nancy Binay said transport officials should join commuters in traveling from home to work to understand the struggle of those who have no vehicles.
“Mabuti sila’t aircon ang mga sasakyan,” she said. “Kung subukan kaya ng mga opisyal ng DOTr mag-commute papasok sa opisina nila sa Clark City o Ortigas?”
The Senate Minority leader, Senator Franklin Drilon, said the scenario of thousands of commuters stranded on major roads reflected poor planning from the government and unpreparedness in the reopening of the economy.
“It shows the lack of foresight and the insensitivity of the government to the true need of the poor,” he said. “If we are to revive the economy, then we have to make sure that our workers get to their work without compromising their health and that of others.”
Researchers from state-run University of the Philippines have warned that downgrading Metro Manila to a status with looser restrictions could result in a new surge in coronavirus cases.
At a Palace briefing on Tuesday, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said “moments of discomfort” will only be temporary as officials carry out changes in travel such as the bus augmentation system.
“Mayroon pong mga plano at sa aming paglunsad at pagganap ng mga planong ito, naturalmente na mayroong mga taong nai-inconvenience,” Tugade said.
The department has rolled out two phases for allowing public transport in areas under general community quarantine.
From June 1 to 21, only trains, buses, taxis, shuttle services, point-to-point buses and bicycles will be allowed.
Public utility buses and other utility vehicles are targeted to resume operations by the last week of the month. (Christian de Lano Deiparine/MM)
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