By Tracy Cabrera
VALENZUELA City Mayor Rex Gatchalian threatened bus companies he would bar them from entering the city if they do not follow strict quarantine protocols following reports that there are passenger buses who violate the social distancing requirement when plying their routes.
This came in the wake of an order issued by the mayor to make Metrolink Bus Corporation pay the hefty sum of PhP462,000 as penalty for its drivers and conductors who violated quarantine protocols, particularly social distancing among their passengers.
Netizens brought to Gatchalian’s attention photos showing a Metrolink bus—part of the Malabon-Marilao line—with passengers sitting side-by-side, a clear violation of the one-seat-apart rule for public utility buses (PUBs) implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and Department of Transportation (DoTr).
“Kung akala n’yo dahil ang operating license walang say ang Valenzuela sa operations n’yo dahil ang operating license niyo ay galing sa LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and regulatory Board) at hindi sa amin, laking mali n’yo,” he stressed.
Gatchalian said in a Facebook post he has no qualms in barring buses from entering Valenzuela, saying if they do, the city government will stop them and their buses will be impounded.
“To the other bus operators don’t you dare try to do this or else you’ll suffer the same fate as Metrolink Bus . . . hindi dahil ang license n’yo ay galing sa LTFRB eh wala na kaming magagawa sa inyo sa cityhall . . . let’s see if makapasok pa kayo sa city namin if you do this,” he reiterated.
The mayor likewise told his constituents: “If you see buses do this and you’re onboard take a picture, tweet it to me. I need lang the route, bus company name, and the time and date it happened. Ako bahala sa kanila. You be my eyes and ears. Help us keep our city safe.”
Gatchalian has met with the owner and management of Metrolink and the bus company agreed to sanction their drivers and conductors involved in any of the violations. Extra seats will also be removed from the buses to fully comply with social distancing at all times.
“Valenzuelanos, please take pictures and send to me bus violations on social distancing. Help us police them. Metrolink was given one last chance to shape up . . . but what they did cost them 462,000 pesos na fine . . . so if may mga iba pa na bus operators na gusto gumaya . . .” he concluded in a follow-up post.