Despite inadequate transportation, MMDA says commuters 'forgot' quarantine rules at GCQ's onset
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 (Philstar.com) - 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: August 1, 2021 - 4:15pm

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)

August 1, 2021 - 4:15pm

The Philippines logs 8,735 new coronavirus infections, bringing the national caseload to 1,597,689.

  • Recoveries: 5,930 new; 1,506,027 total
  • Deaths: 127 new; 28,016 total
  • Active cases: 8,735 or 4% of total
July 31, 2021 - 4:09pm

The Department of Health logs an additional 8,147 COVID-19 infections, bringing the national tally to 1,588,965.

  • Active cases: 60,887 or 3.8% of the total
  • Recoveries: 9,117, pushing total to 1,500,189
  • Deaths: 167, bringing total to 27,889
July 29, 2021 - 4:28pm

DOH logs 5,735 more COVID-19 infections, bringing the national caseload to 1,572,287.

  • Recoveries: 4,069 new; 1,488,437 total
  • Deaths: 176 new; 27,577 total
  • Active cases: 56,273 or 3.6% of total
July 28, 2021 - 4:33pm

The Philippines' coronavirus caseload climbs to 1,566,667 with 4,478 new infections reported Wednesday.

  • Recoveries: 6,149 new; 1,484,714 total
  • Deaths: 84 new; 27,401 total
  • Active cases: 54,552 new or 3.5% of total
July 27, 2021 - 4:25pm

Health authorities log 7,186 new coronavirus cases in the country, pushing the total to 1,652,420.

  • Recoveries: 5,672 new; 1,478,625 total
  • Deaths: 72 new; 27,318 total
  • Active cases: 56,477 or 3.6% of total
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