Department of Transportation (DOTr) Sec. Arthur Tugade has issued a stern warning against “colorum” vehicles or trucking companies that have been illegally transporting people within “NCR-plus” despite the prevailing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Tugade said he was informed that out-of-line vans and trucks “smuggle” untested persons to the borders of Metro Manila in exchange for cash.
Once at the borders, the passengers will then be fetched by commuter vans.
A video circulating on social media showed a truck driver open his locked cargo to reveal a group of people huddled inside.
Many of the passengers who disembarked from the truck did not wear face masks or face shields.
The people were then instructed to board several unmarked commuter vans, which supposedly brought them to destinations inside Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR).
The man recording the video also thanked the truck driver for transporting them.
Tugade strongly urged transport enforcers and regulators to put a stop to this illegal operation, which he tagged as “COVID-19 smuggling”.
He called it a clear violation of health protocols.
“Pu**** *na nila! Bakit nila gagawin iyan? Hindi nila alam na kinukomprumiso at nilalagay nila sa alanganin ang kalusugan at kabuhayan ng mga tao sa kapaligiran at sambayanan (F*** them! Why are they doing this? They are unknowingly compromising the health of the public),” an incensed Tugade said.
The DOTr chief explained that such illegal operations serve as vectors for virus transmission as the people being transported have not been tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before entering Metro Manila.
Aside from the ECQ, a travel bubble is also in effect in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal (NCR-plus).This means that non-essential inbound travel to the bubble is prohibited.
“These things must not be tolerated. Let us move strong on this! Dapat itigil ito. Lahat ng paghihirap natin sa testing, isolation at treatment mawawala dahil dito sa kagaguhan at kalokohan na ginagawa nito (This must be stopped. All of our efforts in testing, isolation, and treatment will be for nothing because of these foolish acts),” he added.
Tugade said that while he understands why people tend to patronize clandestine transport operations, he stressed the dangers posed by such illegal activities are far too great.
He also urged workers from outside NCR-plus to board authorized modes of public transportation to ensure their health and safety amid the pandemic.