By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has deployed more vehicles that include buses and troop carriers in Metro Manila and other parts of the country to assist thousands of workers who were caught between the government’s decision to reopen the economy and the lack of enough public utility vehicles to transport them to their workplaces.
Maj. Gen. Dionardo Carlos, head of the PNP-Directorate for Police Community Relations (DPCR), said the police vehicles will be part of the government’s fleet offering free rides to stranded workers.
“Similar efforts are being replicated by the Police Regional Offices in coordination with their Local Government Units and other government agencies,” said Carlos.
On Monday, the entire Metro Manila and other areas were placed under General Community Quarantine while some implemented Modified GCQ, which paved the way for the opening of more business establishments and industries.
But as thousands of workers went out to go back to work, most of them ended up enduring long waiting hours for public utility vehicles and government vehicles’ offering free rides.
Since Monday, reporting to work has been horrible for ordinary workers who do not own cars and motorcycles. Some of them decided to walk for hours from their houses to workplaces.
Senators and other critics blamed concerned government officials for the lack of foresight and common sense as they allegedly failed to anticipate the influx of workers going to work.
Carlos said they started deploying police vehicles at 5:30 a.m. on orders of PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa who instructed them to increase the number of vehicles used in the free ride program.
But Carlos said policemen in charge of the vehicles were instructed to ensure that those who would avail of the free rides must be wearing face masks and should observe physical distancing.
“Personnel involved in the program were instructed to implement the required physical distancing thereby reducing the load capacity of the vehicles to 50 percent,” said Carlos.
“It is our desire to ferry more people but we give premium to the health and safety of the public availing of these services. We hope for the understanding of everyone,” he added.