MANILA — Some Filipinos who returned to work this week after the lockdown of Metro Manila, one of the longest in the world, "forgot" coronavirus protocols as they vied for limited public utility vehicles and crammed on board free shuttle services, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said Tuesday.
ABS-CBN photos on Monday showed some commuters packed in trucks and police patrol cars. Others walked to work or were forced to hail pricier taxis after a long wait for buses.
"Ang mga tao parang nawala rin sa focus. Tandaan natin may COVID pa tayo. Kumbaga, ang naging focus nila iyong pag-travel. Alam naman nila, tulad ng sabi n DOTr, ang first priority natin iyong health and safety," said MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia.
(People seemed to have lost focus. Let's remember, we still have a COVID problem. They were focused on traveling even though they know, just as the Department of Transportation said, our first priority is health and safety.)
"Noong nakita nila iyong mga libreng sakay, talagang ang daming pumupuna sa social media, nag-aagawan na naman, nasa kalsada na naman sila, walang pila. Nag-kaniya-kaniya na naman at nalimutan nila iyong priority ng COVID," he added.
(When they saw the free rides, many commented on social media that commuters fought over these, they were on the road, there were no lines. They were each to his own and forgot that the priority is to stay safe from COVID.)
The nearly 80-day lockdown of Metro Manila and other urban areas had displaced some 2.5 million workers temporarily or permanently, the labor department earlier said.
Monday marked the first day of the region's general community quarantine or GCQ, which allowed almost all industries to operate at 75-percent capacity and restarted public transport in 2 phases.
Regulators will issue special permits so that more buses can ferry passengers to EDSA from roads that saw a build-up of commuters on Monday like Commonwealth Avenue, said MMDA's Garcia.
Authorities are also studying a suggestion by local governments to allow modern jeepneys in secondary roads, and will continue giving free shuttle services, he said.
"Makakaasa po ang ating mga kababayan na ginagawan na po ito ng aksyon ngayon," Garcia said.
(Our compatriots can expect that we are addressing this.)
Public transport could be a weak spot of the relaxed quarantine "because people are in an enclosed space" where the virus can spread, said Dr. Edsel Salvana, a clinical associate professor at the Philippine General Hospital.
"It is potentially dangerous but it can be mitigated by capacity controls and masks, physical distance, handwashing, disinfection. Also, contactless payment and better ventilation can help," he told ABS-CBN News.