One-meter distance in PUVs stays
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has proposed to gradually reduce the distance between commuters in public vehicles from one meter to 0.75 meter starting last September 14.
AFP/Ted Aljibe
One-meter distance in PUVs stays
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - September 18, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The physical distancing requirement in public transportation is back at one meter for the time being while the matter is to be decided on by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has proposed to gradually reduce the distance between commuters in public vehicles from one meter to 0.75 meter starting last September 14.

 Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced yesterday the decision of the Palace following opposition from multi-sectoral groups and other government agencies.

Citing figures from the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19, health Secretary Francisco Duque warned that shortening the required distance between passengers could possibly result in 686 additional coronavirus cases recorded per day.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año also warned that it could cause an infection spike that would lead to "going back" to enhanced community quarantine.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, who also expressed opposition to the DOTr proposal, welcomed the decision of the Palace to maintain a status quo. The mayor immediately directed the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) and the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to continue implementing the one meter distance in public transportation as well as the other health protocols such as wearing of mask and face shield.

"Nagpasalamat ko that the national leadership of the President, miduyog gyud sa atong panawagan nga dili gyud angay paminusan nato ang distansya kay this has been the standard nga gi-set sa World Health Organization and even other foreign countries, ang ila gani mas labaw pa sa one meter o two meters man gani," said Labella.

(I thank the national leadership of the president for hearing us out that the distance between commuters should not be reduced because this has been the standard set by the World Health Organization and even other foreign countries. Theirs are even more than one meter or two meters)

Labella said that reducing the distance between commuters in public vehicles is a real risk.

" If we reduce the distance between two people, especially inside a public utility vehicle, we are really doomed to, you know, create a surge again kay importante, the farther they stay the distance, the lesser chances of the virus from being transmitted so nganong ato mang usbon," said Labella.

The mayor also did not find it necessary because the city does not lack public vehicles.

In fact, there are more public vehicles than passengers in Cebu City based on the observation of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB-7).

"Dinhi sa Sugbo, mao may analysis, evaluation sa atong LTFRB nga wa magkuwang ang atong transportation facility. Mao bitaw na nga wa pa nila tuguti ang traditional PUJ, so if that is the case, there is no compelling reason ngano nga atong pamub-an ang distansiya between passengers of a transportation facility," he said.

(In Cebu, the analysis and evaluation of LTFRB is we do not lack the transportation facility. That is precisely why traditional PUJs are not allowed to operate. So if that is the case, why reduce the distance between passengers of a transportation facility)

Labella said the people should never be complacent, especially now that many are going out under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status. On the contrary, he said the public should be more vigilant. — Mary Ruth R. Malinao, Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, FPL

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