Cabinet OKs easing of transport restrictions

Christina Mendez, Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
Cabinet OKs easing of transport restrictions
Protected by clear barriers, members of the Cabinet attend a meeting presided over by President Duterte at Malacañang the other day.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte and his Cabinet have approved the implementation of the one-seat apart rule in public transportation as the government moves toward the reopening of the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Cabinet approved the one-seat distance rule while the Department of Transportation (DOTr) increased the rail capacity from 30 to 50 percent.

The one-seat apart rule will be implemented once the DOTr comes out with the proper guidelines and publishes these in a reputable newspaper or the Official Gazette, Roque said.

DOTr spokesperson Goddes Hope Libiran said the DOTr would come up with guidelines on the implementation of the one-seat-apart rule for public vehicles including jeepneys, buses and mass rail transit systems.

Pasang Masda president Roberto Martin wants to clarify if passengers are still required to stay one seat apart even if there is a plastic divider between them.

Martin gave assurance that their drivers are strictly implementing minimum health and safety standards such as requiring passengers to wear face masks and face shields.

The Cabinet also approved the gradual resumption of operations of provincial buses, motorcycles taxis, shuttles and transportation network vehicle service (TVNS).

It also approved the gradual expansion of age group allowed to go out like those 15 to 65 years old.

The economic cluster recommended the implementation of shorter curfew hours and multiple work shifts to allow more workers and buyers to contribute to the economy, as well as the gradual expansion of business capacity from 75 to 100 percent.

Should COVID cases rise, the government will maintain quarantine level and implement stricter protocols and more localized quarantine.

The Cabinet approved the need to intensify the communication campaign to inform and educate the people on how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The use of Beep cards was also discussed during the meeting, wherein the DOTr underscored the need to implement cashless payments for fares.

Based on latest statistics, Roque said the Philippines has been continuously improving its healthcare utilization, which showed that the country has available ICU or intensive care units and isolation beds.

“We are not yet in the critical level,” he said.

The Philippines has conducted up to 3.9 million swab or RT-PCR tests in 110 licensed laboratories and 35 GeneXpert laboratories nationwide.

The number of active cases was pegged at 43,332 as of Monday, Roque said, citing records from the Department of Health.

44 more jeepney routes opened

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has allowed 4,820 more traditional jeepneys to operate along 44 additional routes in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces.

Among the new routes allowed as provided under Memorandum Circular No. 2020 are Bagong Silang to SM Fairview Maligaya, Bagong Silang Kaliwa to SM Robinson Fairview Zabarte, Balintawak to Camarin, Balintawak to Lagro, Balintawak to Novaliches, Kiko Camarin to SM Fairview, Malinta to Malolos, Aurora/Lauan to Quezon Memorial Circle, Angono to Araneta Cubao, Binangonan, Rizal to Marcos Highway, Buso-Buso to Marikina, Cubao to Angono, Edsa Shaw Blvd. to Morong, Edsa Shaw Blvd. to Tanay, Marikina to Pinugay, Arroceros to Project 7, Baclaran to Blumentritt via L Guinto Sta. Cruz, Baclaran Blumentritt via L. Guinto Quiapo, Baclaran to P. Campa, Balintawak to Blumentritt and Balut to Divisoria.

Also included are Cubao to Remedios, Dagat-Dagatan to Divisoria Ilaya, Dapitan to Delos Reyes/P. Campa, Divisoria to Pier South, Edsa/Shaw Central to Kalentong/JRC, Frisco to Vito Cruz, Malanday to Pier South, Malanday to Recto, Malanday to Sta. Cruz, Cubao to Roces/Super Palengke, Alabang to FTI, Baclaran to Moonwalk, Baclaran to Nichols, Baclaran to Zapote Las Piñas, BF Homes Subdivision Ikot, Barangay Ayala Alabang to Alabang MKT and vice versa, Alabang to Balibago, Alabang to Biñan, Alabang to Carmona, Alabang to GMA, Alabang to Langgam, Pacita Complex to Sucat and Talon to Molino Bayan.

The memorandum circular dated Oct. 7 was signed by LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III and board members Ronaldo Corpus and Joel Pernito.

The LTFRB reminded jeepney operators and drivers to implement minimum health and safety standards, including the 50 percent capacity to maintain social distancing protocols and the “no mask, no shield, no ride” policy.

There is no need for jeepney drivers to secure special permits to operate but they should download the quick response (QR) codes.

A total of 27,016 traditional jeepneys along 302 routes have been allowed to operate since the general community quarantine was implemented, the LTFRB said.

Up to 845 modern jeepneys along 48 routes, 4,016 commuter buses along 34 routes, 387 point-to-point buses along 34 routes and 3,263 UV Express vans on 76 routes have resumed operations.

Also allowed to ferry passengers are 20,927 taxicabs and 24,356 transport network vehicle services.

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