Health is priority: Palace denies favoring private transport during pandemic


Posted at Jun 24 2020 10:01 AM | Updated as of Jun 24 2020 10:27 AM

Cyclists navigate EDSA, June 15, 2020. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority started painting markers on designated bike lanes to ensure road safety in the metropolis’ busiest and most congested highway. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Malacañang denied Wednesday that its pandemic protocols prioritized private transportation over public vehicles as quarantines eased to restart the economy.

Regulators allowed the resumption of trains, buses, taxis and ride-sharing services in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ after stricter lockdowns grounded public transport for about 2 months, said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

"The priority of the IATF is still upholding public health and that is why as far as transportation is concerned it's not just cars that are being given priority," he told ANC.

"It's not true that the favored mode of transportation is still private," he added.

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The transportation department is studying how to ensure social distancing and hygiene in traditional jeepneys so these can return to the road, Roque said.

"If buses and the modernized jeepneys will not be sufficient, yes, the DOTr will consider also jeepneys," he said.

However, Roque said UV Express vans "stand a better chance" of resuming operations because their passengers are seated facing the same direction.

Jeepneys typically cram in 10 to 16 commuters sitting knee-to-knee on twin benches that make it difficult to enforce social distancing measures.