Palace: Allowing all modes of transport will defeat quarantine

Published June 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos 

Malacañang explained that despite understanding the daily plight of workers, it cannot allow the full resumption of all modes of public transportation as the threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is still present.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after thinktank Action for Economic Reform (AER) said the lack of sufficient mass transportation negates the reopening of the economy since productivity suffers when employees struggle to go to work.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque speaks during a press briefing at the New Executive Building in Malacanang, Friday. (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a statement, Roque said the Palace understands the plight of workers but explained that they cannot allow the full operations of public transportation just yet because it would defeat the purpose of the quarantine.

“We hear the sentiments and understand the predicament of workers in commuting from their places of residence to their workplaces and vice-versa when we reopened the economy,” he said Sunday (June 7).

“We have to consider, however, that Metro Manila is still under general community quarantine (GCQ), thus the threat of COVID-19 still exists and is real.

“At this juncture, we still cannot let all modes of transportation to be on the streets. This will defeat the purpose of quarantine. Unless a vaccine or cure is available, we must not let our guards down,” he added.

President Duterte approved the shift of Metro Manila to GCQ despite it still being considered a high-risk area, to revitalize the economy after being paralyzed for three months due to COVID-19 measures.

With the shift to GCQ, the government has allowed the limited operation of public transportation, but the permitted trains, buses, taxi cabs, and ride-hailing services can only transport a limited number of passengers.

To make up for the limited operations of public transportation, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) opened eight city bus routes last week and, upon the instruction of the President, will open three more on June 8. More routes will open in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Roque assured the public that the government is reviewing the situation on a daily basis. On the other hand, he renewed the government’s appeal to the private sector to provide shuttles for their employees.

“Daily assessments are done on the transportation sector. The government is trying to do more in order to help everyone. We also reiterate our appeal to the private sector to provide shuttle services to their employees,” he said.

“What the administration is doing is balancing the need to revitalize the economy so that we can have livelihood and jobs while looking out for and protecting the health and safety of the public as well,” he added.