An airconditioned bus offers free rides to commuters along Commonwealth Ave. on the second day of general community quarantine in Metro Manila.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Despite inadequate transportation, MMDA says commuters 'forgot' quarantine rules at GCQ's onset
Franco Luna ( - June 2, 2020 - 2:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — In the wake of chaos reported among Metro Manila's motorways for throngs of commuters who could not find rides, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority claimed Tuesday that this was because commuters forgot the rules and regulations set to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

Ever since talks of general community quarantine began, government agencies have begun ramping up the narrative that the success of the now-implemented GCQ depended wholly on the cooperation and discipline of the public. 

READ: Familiar transportation woes as Metro Manila lurches to 'new normal'

Speaking in an interview with dzMM Teleradyo, MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said: "People have lost focus. Let's remember, we still have COVID-19. They were focused on traveling even though they know, just as the Department of Transportation said, our first priority of course is health and safety, and how to get from point A to point B is our second priority."

"When they saw the free rides, many commented on social media that commuters fought over these, they went back on the roads, and there were no lines again. It was every man for himself, and they forgot that the priority is to stay safe from COVID," he added. 

In a taped statement sent to reporters, MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago also said in Filipino: "We humbly suggest that [those who couldn't get on the buses] take the MRT for the meantime."

The EDSA bus augmentation program was deployed to address the lack of volume on the MRT-3 line. 

RELATED: Life After Lockdown: Limited operations for land transport as more Filipinos hit the road

This comes in the wake of experts from different sectors highlighting the need for mass transportation, mass testing—which the Palace says means testing everyone in the country—and more aggressive contact tracing efforts. 

Advocates and lawmakers alike have cast doubt that the public transportation as it stood was unequal to the task of ferrying thousands of commuters to their respective destinations. 

Transport and labor groups including Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON), the Move as One Coalition and Nagkaisa are still lobbying for service contracting in public transportation and that buses and traditional public utility vehicles be allowed to ply their routes once more. 

In defending the DOTR's efforts, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said that it "never promised or said that transportation will be extensive and will meet the requirements of all on the first day of GCQ."

READ: Fuel subsidies, new bus system among DOTr plans for 'new normal' transportation

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also said: "It may be difficult for some, especially those who will physically report, but we live in extraordinary times and situation."

Even the Philippine National Police, though, has pointed to the lack of transportation options as a factor behind Monday's chaos. 

In a statement released later that day, Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said: "Except for reports of stranded commuters due to inadequate transportation, no other significant reports of untoward incidents were recorded."


As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 3, 2020 - 10:19am

Other regions and provinces in the Philippines considered moderate and low-risk areas will be placed under general community quarantine starting May 1. Bookmark this page for updates. (Main image by The STAR/Edd Gumban)

July 3, 2020 - 10:19am

The local government of Valenzuela announces that daycare students received Nutri-Packs as the general community quarantine has been extended. 

“Public daycare students will get their 2nd Nutri-Pack from the city government... We want to make sure they have enough nutritional intake during these quarantine times,” Mayor Rex Gatchalian says.

July 1, 2020 - 3:10pm

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon agrees with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and other economic centers need to be relaxed soon.

"I support Secretary Dominguez’s call to ease restrictions in the National Capital Region and Calabarzon and put them under the  modified general community quarantine," Drilon says in an e-mailed statement.

 "I’m afraid that any further delay in the easing of quarantine restrictions in these two economic centers will cause further damage to our economy and our people who have lost their livelihood."

July 1, 2020 - 12:10am

Health Secretary Francisco Duque says Metro Manila, Benguet, Cavite, Rizal, Lapu-Lapu Mandaue, Leyte, Ormoc,.Southern Leyte, Talisay City to be placed under general community quarantine.

June 29, 2020 - 10:22am

La Trinidad town hall in Benguet province on Monday resumes its operations after a week on lockdown for an intensive contact tracing and disinfection after four front liners tested positive of COVID-19.

La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda imposed the lockdown at the municipal hall and other areas around the municipality on June 18.

Three police officers of the La Trinidad Municipal Police Station and a municipal health worker assigned at the operation center at the municipal hall also tested positive during the conduct of the expanded mass testing for frontline workers in the Cordillera.

All 277 LGU employees were all swabbed and tested negative while disinfection activities were done in the different offices and facilities in La Trinidad, Salda said, as this will become their “new normal”. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

June 27, 2020 - 12:30pm

Government Service Insurance System says the state pension fund has extended its COVID-19 loan moratorium program for members, pensioners and other borrowers by another month or until June 2020.

“The extension will provide relief to many government employees and pensioners whose families are having financial difficulties because of the COVID-19 crisis. We earlier implemented a three-month moratorium from March to May 2020," GSIS President and General Manager Rolando Ledesma Macasaet says.

"However, with the continuing crisis and quarantine measures, we made it a four-month moratorium to tide over our members and pensioners,” he adds.

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