'We might go back to ECQ': Año says reduced physical distancing in PUVs 'dangerous'
Some PUVs still ferry some stranded commuters along EDSA in Cubao, Quezon City in this undated photo.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
'We might go back to ECQ': Año says reduced physical distancing in PUVs 'dangerous'
(Philstar.com) - September 15, 2020 - 9:57am

MANILA, Philippines — Two Cabinet secretaries warned that easing physical distancing controls in public transport will lead to an increase in the number of coronavirus infections in the country.

In a briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte and other Cabinet members, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año called the proposal to reduce distance between commuters in public utility vehicles “dangerous” as he stressed  the need to listen to experts and thoroughly study the proposal

“Face shield and mask can only mitigate the spread but the distance is the most important,” the vice chair of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said in Filipino late Monday. 

“Sumasang-ayon ako doon sa ating mga health workers, health sector na ito ay magsisimula na naman ng spike at parang roller coaster na babalik na naman tayo sa pinagmulan natin. Magiging ECQ na naman,” Año added.

(I agree with our health workers, our health sector that it will lead to a spike and a roller coaster where we go back to where we were. It will be enhanced community quarantine again.)

Dr. Antonio Dans, Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 spokesperson, said that it is still too early to relax physical distancing rules in public transport as he urged commuters to stick to one-meter distance whenever possible.

“It is still too early for it and the number of cases will surely increase and the recovery will slow down if we do this now,” he said in Filipino.

In the same Palace briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III cited the study of the HPAAC that shortening the required distance between passengers from the original one meter to 0.75 meter may result in 686 additional infections daily.

“So if you multiply that by 30 days, you will have about 20,580 cases,” Duque said.

“If you multiply that by 1.6 which is our case fatality, meaning the number of deaths over the number of total infection, ang lalabas po rito will be 3,951 deaths per year,” he added.

Duque said he will recommend the HPAAC study to the government’s inter-agency task force (IATF) on coronavirus response, which he chairs, Tuesday

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the DOH did not object to the decision to reduce the distance during their meeting, but Duque said he was not there.


The Department of Transportation began the implementation of the policy on Monday. The separation would then be adjusted to 0.5 meter by September 28 and to 0.3 meter by October 12.

For Secretary Carlito Galvez, NTF chief implementer, the country can loosen distancing rules in public vehicles as long as the minimum health standards—including no talking and no-eating rules—are strictly implemented.

Año, however, stressed the need for consistency in government policies.

“Mahirap po kasi nag-iingat po tayo sa panahon na ito tapos magsisisi uli tayo dahil maraming madidisgrasya na naman dahil sa pag-violate ng one meter distancing na sinusunod po natin itong minimum na ‘to sa lahat po—sa opisina, sa mall, sa bahay pero pagdating po sa sasakyan, biglang nawala na po ‘yung one meter,” he said.

The country’s coronavirus caseload reached 265,888, with 4,630 deaths as of Monday. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 20, 2020 - 3:04pm

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)

September 20, 2020 - 3:04pm

Timezone Philippines says its operations are on pause because of the pandemic but that "it is not closing down anytime soon."

It adds that "through the years, we have acquired a lot of game machines for you to enjoy and for several years now, we have been selling machines to allow our dear guests to enjoy these games in the comfort of their own homes, as well as to declutter a little and give space to new and exciting games that we offer."

Timezone FUN is still on PAUSE as mandated by the government due to the pandemic that we are all facing. All our venues...

Posted by Timezone Philippines on Friday, 18 September 2020
September 19, 2020 - 9:41am

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announces that President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to maintain the one-meter rule on physical distancing in public transportation. — The STAR/Christina Mendez

September 18, 2020 - 5:33pm

President Rodrigo Duterte signs Proclamation 1021 extending the period of state of calamity throughout the Philippines due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The proclamation is effective from Sept. 13, 2020 to Sept. 12,2021. — The STAR/Christina Mendez 

September 18, 2020 - 12:35pm

All private and public cemeteries, memorial parks and columbarium will be closed from October 29 to November 4, as decided upon by the inter-agency task force on COVID-19.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also announces that the IATF has approved maximum of 30% of venue capacity in cemeteries, memorial parks and columbarium from September 17 to November 15.

September 17, 2020 - 12:04pm

The one-meter rule in public transportation will remain until President Rodrigo Duterte decides on the matter, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says.

Roque, also spokesperson of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19, said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade manifested this in their meeting.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with