DILG on Vico Sotto's appeal to exempt trikes: Be more creative in dealing with COVID-19

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
DILG on Vico Sotto's appeal to exempt trikes: Be more creative in dealing with COVID-19
Some PUVs still ferry some stranded commuters along EDSA in Cubao, Quezon City on Tuesday midnight following the suspension of all public transport in line with the strict implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines (Update 1, 11:37 p.m.) — Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto on Wednesday afternoon appealed to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to allow tricycles in their area to operate amid the month-long suspension of public and mass transportation due to the worsening novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Among the initiatives rolled out as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement of enhanced community quarantine in mainland Luzon was the complete suspension of mass transportation. 

As a result, train systems, buses, jeepneys and other forms of mass transportation will no longer be operating, along with ride-hailing applications such as Angkas and Grab.

"Nakikiusap po ako sa ating nasyonal na pamahalaan, baka naman po pwedeng bigyan ng konsiderasyon ‘yung mga tricycle," Sotto told reporters on Wednesday. 

"Hindi na po para sa tricycle driver. Para po sa public health and safety. Kapag hindi po natin pinayagan yong mga tricycle, mas marami pong mamamatay."

READ: No mass transportation amid 'enhanced community quarantine' in Luzon

As it stands, only health workers are permitted to use tricycles in Pasig City. 

The Pasig mayor disclosed that the local government's assessment of the situation shows that more damage would be done if tricycles were not permitted to transport passengers.

"Yung mga post-surgery na kailangan magpacheck-up. Yung mga kailangan ng dialysis," he cited. 

'Be more creative'

In a text message to Philstar.com, Interior spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in response, "Any form of mass transportation is prohibited during the period of [enhanced community quarantine] because our purpose is to limit the movement of people to stop the spread of the disease." 

"Every person is a potential carrier," he added.

The Interior undersecretary also pointed to other local governments who have found other ways to transport workers. 

After the chief executive's public address declaring the enhanced quarantine, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that LGUs had the option of providing transportation and requiring public utilities to operate certain number of vehicles.

READ: Health workers walk to work, sleep in clinics as quarantine halts transportation

As of this writing, Quezon City and Makati City have followed the lead of the Office of the Vice President and have also deployed shuttles to transport health workers. 

"Now, if other LGUs in Metro manila can shuttle their health care workers why can’t Pasig? The other LGUs are now using buses to ferry their health care worker," Malaya said.  

"Pasig is the only LGU that has not complied with the directive of the president," he added. 

"We appeal to Mayor Vico to be more creative in dealing with this problem just like the other Metro Manila mayors who have addressed this problem already."

'Kawawa ang pasahero'

In an earlier exchange, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope-Libiran also told Philstar.com that the Transportation department "encourages the public [to] just stay at home and avoid commuting." 

"We do not want them to be more exposed to the virus. This is for their own safety," she added. 

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno in an earlier exhange with Philstar.com said that other government agencies should provide transportation for workers who were left without options.

"Hindi po effective ang implementasyon ng social distancing kasi marami talagang pasahero. Dapat ilabas ipagamit sa mga pasahero ang mga government vehicles," KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis said, citing the national police, the Transportation Department, the Metro Manila Development Authority, Land Transportation Office and LTFRB. 

"Kawawa ang mga pasahero," he said. 

Practice social distancing

At a press conference held by the task force behind the government's response to the virus, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the task force was apprehensive about the possibility of social distancing should tricycles be allowed. 

According to Nograles, LGUs did not have to limit themselves to tricycles as their had other options including jeepneys, four-wheel vehicles, along with the alternative of borrowing vehicles from constituents. 

"Di po kami sa gobyerno ang gumagawa ng patakaran or rules para pahirapan ang mamamayan. Ginagawa namin ito para lahat pantay-pantay at lahat maproteksyunan," Nograles said. 

"Let's all stick to the common ground rules. It's based on one purpose. Ayaw namin kayo ay magkahawaan." — with report from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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