Quarantine commuter woes 'temporary,' transport chief says

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 02 2020 03:20 PM

Stranded passengers hitch a ride in trucks amid the lack of mass transportation traversing Commonwealth Ave in Quezon City on June 1, 2020, the start of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Everyone is "inconvenienced" by changes in public transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said Tuesday as he assured the public that the pain would be "temporary."

Tugade denied that the government was "sacrificing" workers in Metro Manila's shift to a more relaxed general community quarantine, after 11 weeks on lockdown.

"Mayroon pong mga plano at sa aming paglunsad at pagganap ng mga planong ito, naturalmente na mayroong mga taong nai-inconvenience. Sinasakprisyo ho ba natin ang mga manggagawa – hindi po," he said in a virtual press briefing.

(We have plans. And in executing these plans, it's natural that there will be inconveniences. It's not true that we are sacrificing the workers.

"Lahat po tayo dito sa panahon na ito ay may tama, may inconvenience, may moments of discomfort, lahat ho tayo mayroon niyan," he said.

(All of us at this time are inconvenienced, and have moments of discomfort. We all experience that.)

Commuters on Monday struggled with limited public transport and crammed on board free shuttle services as most industries in Metro Manile resumed operations. Some jostled for space in trucks.

The transportation department does not allow crowding in vehicles, and such incidents are a "failure of implementation," Tugade said.

"Ang pakiusap ko lang ay magkapit-bisig tayo at intindihin natin iyong estado at sitwasyon, sapagkat itong inconvenience na ito sa aking pananaw at sa aking paniniwala ay temporary lamang," he added.

(I appeal for unity and for understanding over the situation because I think this inconvenience is only temporary.)

Until June 21, public transport is limited to train and bus augmentation units, taxis, ride-hailing cars, point-to-point buses, shuttle services, and bicycles.

Tricycles are also allowed subject to the approval of local government units while provincial buses are still barred from entering Metro Manila.

From June 22 to June 30, the Department of Transportation said public utility buses, modern jeepneys, and UV express vans would be allowed to operate.