Workers group slams uniform curfew amid mass transportation shortage
Armed with yantoks, members of the Southern Police District roam around Barangay Baclaran in Parañaque City on Monday night, March 15, 2021, to remind the public of the strict implementation of the unified curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Workers group slams uniform curfew amid mass transportation shortage

(Philstar.com) - March 16, 2021 - 12:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — A workers group slammed Tuesday the adjustment of a uniform curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. across Metro Manila, calling it a burden to all workers in the capital region amid the pronounced shortage in mass transportation.

In a statement, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino called attention to the effects of the curfew on public transportation and consequently, graveyard shift workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The group said the move would also negatively impact "the entire working-class population of Metro Manila; not only those who come off and go to work at night such as the second shift (2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) and third shift (10:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.) workers but also those on a morning shift (6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) since they are usually on the road by five in the morning."

"By restricting public transportation on said hours, we are reminded of medical workers and essential frontliners, who had to walk before and after their grueling shifts, and of the abuses to motorcycle riders at police checkpoints during last year's Enhanced Community Quarantine," BMP said. 

"We also have stark memories of the discriminatory implementation of the quarantine and health protocols along with the harassment (and killing, as in the case of Winston Ragos) of alleged violations to ECQ guidelines."

Lack of transportation options

A year into quarantine, the national government still seems uncertain on the fate of traditional jeepneys. As it stands, only public utility vehicles that have passed the Land Transportation Office's "roadworthiness" standards, along with those under the transportation department's service contracting scheme, are allowed on the road. 

Meanwhile, according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board at Tuesday's hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services, only 81,092 units and PUV franchises have been consolidated under its jeepney modernization program.

READ: Mayors urged: Consider nightshift commuters in implementing curfew

"It is evident that Densing is indifferent to the plight of public mass transport commuters and the common two-wheel riders as he is too comfortable in his own private vehicle and in the transport services accorded to him as a government official," BMP said.

"If the intention in the proposed uniform night curfew is to restrict the movement of people to quell SARS-COV2 transmission - and while the government does not have the capacity to provide people with their basic needs, which forces the workers to leave their houses and risk their very lives for their livelihood, the least it could do is to ensure their safe transport," it added. 

To make matters worse, according to the monitoring of commuter group The Passenger Forum, the already-scarce number of public utility vehicles allowed to ply their routes by the national government dips to more drastic lows at night.

In an earlier release, the group appealed to the Department of Transportation to allow more PUVs to ply their routes to help ensure physical distancing protocols. 

Gov't still blaming Filipinos for COVID-19 spread 

BMP also slammed what it said was the government pinning the blame for rising coronavirus cases on regular Filipinos. 

The last time cops were deployed to enforce quarantine rules, over 140,000 were arrested for "disobedience" and violating quarantine. Human rights violations were also well-documented during that time period. 

"However, we believe that the order for a uniform night curfew is not only caused by a reactive panic attack with the spike in COVID19 incidence. It is also goaded on by the erroneous, insulting, and harmful mindset that the Filipino people, especially the workers and the poor, are to blame for the apparent second wave of the pandemic in the country. This is a view that is prevalent in the security forces (especially the PNP) who regard the poor as "pasaway" and could only be disciplined by force and intimidation," BMP said. 

"We fear that the two-week night curfews would only lead to more grave abuses against the people. Indeed, the war on the poor rages on, and is escalating," it also said. — Franco Luna 

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