At least 80 passengers who arrived in the Bicol Region aboard “colorum (out of line)” vehicles from Metro Manila have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Thus, said Department of Transportation (DOTr) Asec. Mark Steven Pastor in a virtual press briefing on Thursday, April 8, or just days after the agency blew the whistle on colorum vehicles’ illegal activity of transporting people in and out of the metropolis amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Nakakalungkot na sa kabila ng pagtaas ng bilang ng COVID-19 cases sa bansa, may iba pa rin tayong mga kababayan na pumupuslit sa iligal na paraan (It’s unfortunate that despite the surge of COVID-19 in the country, there are still those who choose to travel clandestinely via illegal means),” Pastor said.
According to Pastor, many commuters opt to ride unregulated vehicles for the sake of an “easy fix” since government protocols on health and age limit aren’t being observed.
“Nais man po natin na bumiyahe at umuwi sa ating pamilya, siguraduhin natin na gumamit tayo ng mode of transportation na hindi magiging transmission vector dahil ayaw natin na may bibit tayong virus sa kanila (While we want travel and go home to our loved ones, let’s protect ourselves from the virus by choosing a mode of transportation that aren’t transmission vectors),” he added.
Citing reports from the Bicol Inter-Agency Task Force, the DOTr said that there has been an increase in the movement of people trying to cross borders despite the prevailing ECQ in “NCR-plus”. NCR-plus refers to the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
Investigation showed that the modus starts with Facebook-based bookings. Once the desired number of passengers is achieved, the dispatcher will call a colorum operator for the door-to-door pickup of confirmed passengers.
DOTr Asec. and Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) Executive Dir. Manny Gonzales bared that their team had already apprehended a total of 178 colorum vehicles since January this year.
Gonzales said they will continue to enforce stricter anti-colorum operations to prevent these illegal activities from happening.
Meanwhile, officials of the DOTr and its attached agencies in the road sector said they are cooperating with traffic enforcers and local government units (LGUs) to strictly implement border restrictions.