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 ( - 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: January 18, 2021 - 4:05pm

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)

January 18, 2021 - 4:05pm

With 2,163 newly reported cases, coronavirus infections in the Philippines climb to 502,736 on Monday.

Active cases stand at 26,839 or 5.3% of the total cases.

Total of recovered patients is at 465,988 with two more recoveries while the death toll is at 9,909 with 14 additional deaths.

January 17, 2021 - 4:06pm

Coronavirus cases in the Philippines reach 500,577 with 1,895 new cases reported Sunday.

The Department of Health also logs 5,868 new survivors, bringing the recovery count to 465,991 while the death toll is at 9,895 with 11 new fatalities.

Active cases are at 24,691.

January 17, 2021 - 2:24pm

More than 400,000 overseas Filipino workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis have been brought home by the government, the DOLE reports.

Figures from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration show that 8,274 were sent to their home provinces last week, while 7,895 were also transported in the preceding week.

"After their ordeal in their country of origin, our dear OFWs were all provided accommodation, food, transportation and cash assistance by the government. Now, they are safely home with their families," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III says.

January 16, 2021 - 4:18pm

The Department of Health reports an additional 2,058 cases of the coronavirus disease. This brings the total number of COVID-19 infections in the Philippines to 498,691.

To date, there are 28,674 active cases. The DOH also reports eight new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 9,884. 406 more recovered, bringing the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 460,133.

January 15, 2021 - 4:03pm

COVID-19 cases in the Philippines climb to 496,646 with 2,048 newly reported cases Friday.

Of the confirmed cases, 27,033 are active. The Department of Health also reports 551 new recoveries and 137 new deaths, bringing the total of recovered patients to 459,737 and the death toll to 9,876.

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