Justified apprehension
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - June 29, 2020 - 12:00am

The government will allow UV Express vehicles to ply specific routes starting Monday. Forty-seven routes have been identified. The list can be found at the ABS-CBN News and LTFRB websites. Nine-hundred eighty vehicles will initially be allowed. Passengers must wear masks, provide contact information for contact tracing, not ride close to each other and, if possible, pay exact fares to avoid drivers providing change where there is a back and forth exchange of money. The cashless option may not be feasible for many operators. The UVs will not ply the whole stretch of EDSA and Commonwealth Avenue. So for those who have been used to the relatively light traffic these past weeks, better get ready for Monday.

Fuel prices are going up, again. It has been doing so almost weekly. Since vehicles have been returning to the road, here comes the price increases. A recent announcement from the LTFRB states traditional jeepneys will be allowed but only on thirty routes. A list has not yet been provided. The jeepneys will have to pass emission and roadworthiness tests. I can imagine many will not pass those tests, which in turn will continue to infuriate transport and jeepney groups accusing the government of being too selective and leaning towards the modernization program. Jeepney groups may not accept these conditions because their members are already suffering too much. 

Meanwhile, some areas have been subject to lockdown by their respective local governments due to the increasing number of positive cases. According to the WHO, the Philippines has the fastest rise of virus cases in the Western Pacific, three times that of Singapore coming in second. Both countries have recently opened up after a strict lockdown. That's not something to be complacent about. Metro Manila cannot afford another lockdown so the selective lockdowns may be the next best thing. Another lockdown would spell economic disaster.

I feel for Cebu which is currently under ECQ. The government had to send 150 SAF personnel to enforce quarantine protocols. People need to stay at home to avoid getting sick and merely propagating a vicious cycle. This is why I believe many are still apprehensive about going out. Totally justified. When the UV Express vehicles and traditional jeepneys hit the streets, it will be interesting to see if the usual riding public will utilize these modes of transportation.

I am quite glad we are not like many Americans who do not seem to care or believe that COVID-19 is still a threat and put their freedoms and rights above that of public safety. Even their medical experts are questioned, at times in heated arguments, as open states continue to experience spikes in the number of cases. But is it really surprising if their president is also in denial?

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