By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
A commuters’ group welcomed on Tuesday the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) memorandum directing public utility vehicle drivers and conductors to wear face masks amid the threat of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), but believed the order should not be used to charge them for franchise violations.
Ariel Inton of the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection said he sees “nothing wrong” with the LTFRB’s directive and admitted that it has “good intentions” in helping prevent the spread of the 2019-nCoV.
For him, however, the precautionary measure is only a “suggestion,” than a requirement.
“Wala namang nakalagay na sakaling hindi mo sundin ay merong (Nothing in the memo stated that if you don’t comply, there is a corresponding) franchise violation so I think it is more of a suggestion sa parte ng (on the part of) LTFRB,” Inton, a lawyer and former LTFRB member, said over radio DZRH Tuesday morning.
Inton said the non-compliance of drivers and conductors are not grounds for violations, saying corrupt traffic enforcers might use this to extort from them.
“Basta hindi po maging dahilan ng violation na maaring ang ibang mga enforcers na alam mo na, gamitin ‘yong rason para manghuli (As long as it will not be cited as a reason for violation, which some enforcers who, you know, might use to apprehend drivers),” he said.
Still, Inton maintained that drivers and conductors should follow the advice of health officials about wearing face masks.
The LTFRB, in requiring PUV drivers and conductors to wear face masks, cited a 2011 memorandum which requires PUV operators to provide safe land public transportation to commuters
The transport regulator also required operators to maintain proper sanitation and cleanliness in terminals, including the provision of face masks and sanitizers for passengers.
LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra earlier warned that non-compliance would be penalized.
“May polisiya ang LTFRB kapag may circular na pinapalabas at hindi sinusunod, may violation po ‘yan, breach of franchise. May kaakibat na penalty patungkol diyan,” he said.