AS COMMUTERS struggled to get a ride to their workplaces and homes on the first day of the easing of restrictions Monday, June 1, officials appealed for their patience and understanding.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said they did not promise to meet the required public transport systems on the first day of the general community quarantine (GCQ).
"Humihinigi ho ako sa inyo ng kapatawaran at understanding. Ito ho ay panandalian lamang. Hopefully the time will come when majority will benefit in comfort and convenience with all the improvements we are trying to do at this time," he said in a television interview.
(I apologize and I appeal for your understanding. This is just temporary.)
He said they are doing a "partial, limited, calculated, and gradual" approach to the resumption of public transportation systems more than two months after these were shut down as a measure to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, which causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
"Wala ho kaming pinangako o sinabi na ang transportasyon ay magiging extensive and will meet the requirements of all on the first day of GCQ and even in the duration of the GCQ for that matter," Tugade said.
(We didn’t promise extensive public transportation to meet the requirements of commuters on the first day of the GCQ or even for the duration of the GCQ, for that matter.)
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also sought the commuters’ understanding and patience.
”Phasing by phasing po tayo. Kaunting pasensiya lang, mahirap naman kasi kung bibiglain tapos babalik na naman tayo sa ECQ na naman eh mas lalo pong di tayo makakausad," Año said at a press briefing in Malacañang.
(We’re doing this in phases. Just a bit of patience please. We can’t immediately allow full operations and risk going back to ECQ.)
Metro Manila was placed on ECQ, or enhanced community quarantine, on March 17. This was lifted two months later and the region shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
Effective June 1, Metro Manila was placed on GCQ, allowing public transport systems to resume operations at limited capacity and more businesses to reopen gradually.
"Kaunting pakiusap at pag-uunawa sa ating publiko at malalampasan din naman natin ito. Maganda nga po nakarating na tayo sa GCQ sana ay huwag na tayong babalik sa ECQ o modified ECQ," he added.
(We are appealing for patience and understanding from the public. We shall get past this and we hope we would not revert to ECQ or MECQ.)
Aside from Metro Manila, other areas placed under GCQ until June 15 are Cagayan Valley (Cagayan, Batanes, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino), Central Luzon (Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales), Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Pangasinan, Davao City, Central Visayas (Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor and Cebu, including Cebu City and Mandaue City) and Zamboanga City.
Based on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) guidelines, only buses, trains, taxis, ride-hailing cars, shuttle services and bicycles will be allowed to operate in a limited capacity during the first phase of public transport resumption from June 1 to 21.
Minimum health protocols such as wearing of face masks and social distancing should also be observed.
Tricycle operations will be regulated by the local government.
For the second phase that will run from June 22 to June 30, public utility buses, modern jeepneys and UV express vans will be allowed to operate but also at a limited capacity.
For the LRT and MRT, only 150 to 160 will be allowed to ensure social distancing.
Año earlier said 300 point-to-point buses will be allowed to operate to augment the train operations.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have vowed to provide assistance to the riding public.
PNP Chief Archie Gamboa earlier instructed police units to assist stranded passengers using their respective police mobile vehicles while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the AFP has deployed 48 buses in Metro Manila. (SunStar Philippines)