DOTR hits back at critics, says gov't is really limiting movement of people

By Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) hit back on criticisms hurled at them on the partial resumption of public transportation in Metro Manila and reiterated that the agency had been planning its approach long before the transition to general community quarantine (GCQ).

 Department of Transportation (MANILA BULLETIN) Department of Transportation (MANILA BULLETIN)

"Marami pong nagrereklamo na kulang ang public transportation sa unang araw ng GCQ at hindi naman po namin dine-deny 'yun. Talaga pong kulang dahil po nililimitahan pa rin ng gobyerno yung galaw ng mga tao sa ilalim ng GCQ," Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran said on Wednesday.

(Many are complaining that the public transportation on the first day of the GCQ is not enough and we do not deny it. This is really insufficient as the government is still limiting the movement of people under the GCQ.)

According to Libiran, the Department thoroughly planned its "gradual, calibrated, and partial" approach to the opening of the modes of public transit system while taking into consideration the mobility, as well as the health and safety of the commuters during the pandemic.

"We need to balance public transportation and public health. This is really more of a public health issue than a public transport issue," she emphasized.

Libiran said that the DOTr decided to implement two phases of public transport resumption tin the capital region to limit the flow of commuters as the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is still present.

"Ayaw naman natin na sa isang iglap ay payagan ang lahat ng sasakyan na lumabas dahil ayaw natin na isipin ng mga tao at tumatak sa kanila na maaari na silang bumiyahe kailanman nila naisin," she added.

(We do not want public utility vehicles to resume all at once because we do not want people to think that they can travel whenever they want.)

"Kapag nangyari ito, mababalewala ang pinaghirapan natin ng tatlong buwan. Tandaan natin na tayo ay under GCQ pa rin, ibig sabihin ay malaki pa rin ang threat ng COVID-19 at napakalaki ng potensyal na maging isang transmission vector yung ating public transportation kung hindi tayo mag-iingat," the DOTr official explained.

(When this happens, our three months of hard work will be worthless. Keep in mind that we are still under GCQ, which means that the COVID-19 threat is still there, and public transportation could become a transmission vector if we will not be careful.)

Senator Nancy Binay on Tuesday called out the DOTr for not having a clear plan on public transport resumption during GCQ, which she said added to the chaos, misery, and confusion to the commuting public.

Binay also dared government transport executives to try commuting to work so they can experience for themselves the supposed road transport guidelines they came up with under GCQ.

Daily assessment

But Libiran mentioned that the DOTr has been conducting daily assessments on the transportation sector since the shift to the GCQ to help them identify vital routes to be opened.

"Nung first day ay in-identify namin kung saan ang mga areas na dinagsa ng mga tao at kulang ang public transportation. Araw-araw ang isinasagawang assesment sa transportation sector," she said.

(We identified on the first day of GCQ the areas in Metro Manila which are crowded with passengers and lacked public transportation. We are regularly conducting assessments on this.)

Two city bus routes were opened on Tuesday after many commuters have been stranded in parts of Metro Manila due to lack of public transit on the first day of the region's shift to GCQ.

The routes launched by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board were Route 5 from Angat, Bulacan to Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, and Route 28 from Dasmariñas, Cavite to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).

"Ngayon, tinitingnan din namin yung possibility ng pag-open pa ng ibang mga ruta base sa actual report na nakukuha namin on the ground (We are now looking on the possibility of opening more routes based on the actual report we are receiving on the ground)," Libiran added.