Commuters scramble for a ride in Commonwealth market last March 17, 2020. The government has suspended public transportation following the enhanced Community Quarantine imposed by the local government.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
DILG: E-vehicles allowed because they're not public transpo
Franco Luna ( - March 20, 2020 - 12:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Interior and Local Government on Friday morning drew a distinction between e-tricycles and public tricycles. 

In explaining the department's stance against tricycles, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that banning public transportation was the key in implementing a total lockdown. 

Among the initiatives rolled out as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement of enhanced community quarantine in mainland Luzon was the complete suspension of mass transportation, which suspended the operations of train systems, buses and jeepneys among other forms of mass transportation. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Sotto appealed to the DILG to allow tricycles in their area to operate amid the month-long suspension of public and mass transportation.

Citing Pasig government's assessment, Sotto said prohibiting tricycles to operate does more damage to public health. He explained that residents without COVID-19, especially the elderly, but with existing medical conditions are not able to find transportation to hospitals.

In response, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that Sotto should "be more creative" in his approach to the situation. 

READ: DILG on Vico Sotto's appeal to exempt trikes: Be more creative in dealing with COVID-19

But asked why Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso was allowed to run e-vehicles in his city, Año on Friday pointed to the ban against public transportation. 

Citing that the country owned some 4.5 million tricycles, Año said, "If you allow mass transport, you're opening a gate. E-vehicles don't have routes. The city of Manila commissioned them as an on the spot system to transport health workers."

"If you let them go along their routes, you cannot control it anymore," he said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

"I don't want the PNP and the AFP to check 100,000 tricycles every moment just to check who's riding. I'd rather have them focus their efforts on keeping people staying at home."

For the department, Año said, e-vehicles, which include e-tricycles, did not fall under this category because they were exclusively used for health workers. 

Sotto has said that tricycles in Pasig would also transport health workers for the most part. 

Earlier, though, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that the task force's reason for disallowing tricycles to operate was because of what they said was the impossibility of observing social distancing on motorcycles. 

"I think tapos na yung issue. When the DILG says something, or nakikiusap sa LGU, follow lang, yun lang," Nograles said Friday. 

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