MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is considering increasing the passenger capacity in public transport up to 70 percent, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III appealed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to increase ridership capacity since limited capacity is taking a toll on workers.
“Well, pinag-iisipan po talaga iyan ng IATF dahil alam natin na ang tanging paraan para maiahon sa kahirapan ay ang pagbubukas ng ekonomiya (Well, the IATF is really considering it because we know that the only way to lift people out of poverty is if we open the economy),” he said in a press briefing in Boracay.
He said with the continued decrease in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases, it won’t be long before passenger capacity in public transport is raised.
“At sa tingin ko po it’s a matter of time ‘no bago natin maibalik sa 70 percent itong transportation natin (I think, it’s a matter of time before ridership capacity in public transport returns to 70 percent),” he said.
Roque said former health secretaries Manuel Dayrit and Esperanza Cabral said that increasing ridership capacity should not be a problem as long as commuters comply with quarantine protocols.
“Ang sabi naman po ng mga doctor na pinangungunahan ng ating mga Department of Health Secretaries — Dr. Dayrit at Dr. Cabral — basta naman po magsusuot ng face mask, face shield, walang usapan, walang kainan, may ventilation at sina-sanitize ang mga public transportation ay wala naman pong karagdagan na aberya (According to doctors, led by former Department of Health Secretaries Dr. Dayrit and Dr. Cabral, as long as you wear face masks, face shields, refrain from speaking, refrain from eating, have ventilation, and are regularly sanitized, there won’t be additional problems in public transportation),” he said.
He earlier said the two former health chiefs were supportive of the national government’s move to reduce physical distancing on public transportation.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to retain the “one-meter” physical distancing policy following clamors from various sectors that decreased physical distancing in public transport may result in further Covid-19 transmission.
In a radio interview, Bello said many employees wanted to report for work but there were no rides available.
“Employees would like to report to work but there are no rides available. We are also requesting to allow more people inside public transportation, an increase in ridership of (up to) 70 percent,” Bello said.
Currently, ridership capacity is at 50 percent or half of the designated capacity. (PNA)