Gamboa orders cops to arrest PUV drivers defying no-transport order, impound of PUVs

Published March 17, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Aaron Recuenco

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa ordered on Tuesday the arrest of all drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) who defy the guidelines on the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa (Police Regional Office 10 / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa
(Police Regional Office 10 / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

At the same time, Gamboa also tasked his men to impound all PUVs that would be intercepted transporting passengers, especially those not included in the exemption to move around Metro Manila and Luzon.

“This is a clear defiance of the guidelines which suspend the operation of public utility vehicles. They must comply because this is about public health,” Gamboa told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.

“I already instructed the Highway Patrol Group to arrest all of them and to impound those vehicles.”

Gamboa’s order came amid reports that jeepneys, buses, tricycles, and taxicabs continue to fetch and transport passengers not only in Metro Manila but also in various areas of Luzon.

On Monday, President Duterte approved the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine and expanded the coverage over the entire island of Luzon due to the worsening spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This move was made after authorities noticed that the social distancing protocol was not followed, especially at border control points established on all the roads leading to and from Metro Manila.

Metro Manila was first placed under community quarantine on March 15, paved the way for a lockdown of the metropolis. Only health workers and those heading to work are allowed to enter and move around the metropolis.

But its implementation hit a snag after thousands of people were stranded at the the border control points of Metro Manila and nearby provinces, increasing the risk of infection.

Gamboa said he had tasked the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to be the lead unit to implement his order of arresting PUV drivers and impounding their vehicles.

Operators too

On Tuesday, the HPG flagged down at least 600 taxis along Epifanio delos Santos (EDSA) Avenue. Several jeepneys and tricycles were also reported to be transporting passengers.

Gamboa said the continuous transport of passengers clearly defeats the purpose of the enhanced community quarantine which is to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The owners or operators of the PUVs will also be likely held responsible for defying the President’s order.

The official said they will coordinate with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in order for the two agencies to deal with both the drivers and the operators.

“We are coordinating especially with the LTFRB so that administrative charges could be also filed in relation to the franchise,” said Gamboa.

The official then appealed to the PUV drivers and operators to follow the guidelines on the banning of mass transport, saying this is their way of helping the government address the COVID-19 problem.

Free transportation

Gamboa said they understand the concerns of the health workers and other frontliners in the COVID-19 response, and those allowed to travel to their work places and back home.

As such, he said government-owned vehicles could be deployed to transport health workers and other people who are allowed to travel.

This includes police vehicles, Gamboa said. “We have not yet deployed any of our vehicles for this purpose but we will bring this up in the Inter-Agency Task Force [meeting].”