EFFECTIVE December 9, 2021, the maximum seating capacity of all public utility vehicles (PUVs) in Davao Region will be increased from 50 percent to 70 percent, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Davao Region (LTFRB-Davao) announced.

LTFRB-Davao Director Nonito Llanos III said in a virtual presser on Thursday afternoon, December 9, that the adjustment of the seating capacity is in accordance with the memorandum circular 2021-076 issued by the LTFRB central office.

A week ago, LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III announced during the Fuel Subsidy Program launching at a gasoline station in Davao City on December 1 that the adjustment comes as the Covid-19 cases in the entire Philippines continue to go down, particularly in Davao Region.

Llanos said regional offices were ordered to submit the certification of vaccination rate from their regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) or Department of Health (DOH) regional office in order to confirm 30-percent vaccination rate in their respective areas.

"Nauyonan na ang (It was agreed that) Region 11 (Davao Region), including some other regions, but not all, will be increasing their seating capacity up to 70 percent," the LTFRB-Davao director said.

The official, however, is already aware that even before, some PUVs had already violated the seating capacity, even filling their vehicles up to 100-percent capacity, especially in far-flung areas where no LTFRB or any traffic personnel is around.

Despite the limited number of available personnel deployed on the ground, he said they continue to monitor and apprehend erring drivers who violate the seating capacity arrangement.

For November, Llanos said they apprehended 22 drivers for failure to observe the policy.

He said drivers will be fined a P500 penalty if the number of passengers is more than the allowed capacity.

Although there are instances that it is the passenger who would insist, Llanos said the driver will still be apprehended. He appealed to passengers to also strictly observe the seating capacity set by LTFRB.

The LTFRB reminded the public of the “7 commandments” in PUVs, or the health safety protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), such as the mandatory wearing of face masks, restrictions in talking and eating while inside PUVs and physical distancing.

The LTFRB also reminded PUV drivers to conduct regular disinfection of their vehicle, maintain proper ventilation and screen passengers, especially those manifesting Covid-19 symptoms.