Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles sought complete health protocols before provincial bus operations resume on Sept. 30 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Nograles made the statement as 12 modified provincial bus routes covering 286 units going to Metro Manila from nearby provinces reopen to serve passengers beginning Sept. 30.
In a Facebook Live video Saturday, Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has always talked about allowing the resumption of the operations of provincial buses.
However, he said there should be a system in place.
"Lagi naming sinasabi na kung magkakaroon tayo ng desisyon regarding provincial buses, kailangan maganda ang coordination natin mula sa mga probinsiya dahil papunta doon at papunta po dito sa NCR (We've been saying that if we are going to make a decision regarding provincial buses, we should have good coordination with the provinces because that is where the people will going to or coming from)," he said.
"Kailangan lagyan natin ng mga protocols 'yan to make sure na hindi tayo nagpapadala ng mga positives either going to or coming back kaya dapat naka-put-in-place muna ang mga sistema (We should establish protocols to make sure that we are not sending COVID-19-positive patients so there has to be a system in place)," he added.
Despite this, Nograles, co-chair of the IATF, left to President Duterte the decision regarding provincial buses and to presidential spokesman Harry Roque to make the announcement of guidelines.
According to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Martin Delgra III, the routes to be opened are for provincial buses emerging from Central Luzon and Calabarzon.
He said their decision came after a series of consultations with local officials, as well as terminals and bus operators, as the economy gradually reopens under a more relaxed community quarantine.
Under Memorandum Circular 2020-051 released by the LTFRB on Sept. 26, the following modified routes will be opened for provincial buses at the end of the month:
1. San Fernando, Pampanga-Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City.
2. Batangas City, Batangas-Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
3. Lemery, Batangas-PITX.
4. Lipa City, Batangas-PITX.
5. Nasugbu, Batangas-PITX.
6. Indang, Cavite-PITX.
7. Mendez, Cavite-PITX.
8. Tagaytay City, Cavite-PITX.
9. Ternate, Cavite-PITX.
10. Calamba City, Laguna-PITX
11. Siniloan, Laguna-PITX.
12. Sta. Cruz, Laguna-PITX.