Instead of shortening the physical distancing between passengers in public utility vehicles (PUVs), Senator Bong Go urged the government Thursday to just allow more PUVs on the roads and possibly subsidize their operations.
Go made the remark after the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 said that while it recognizes the need to further open up the economy, the decision of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to gradually reduce physical distancing on public vehicles was made “too early.”
“Sang-ayon ako sa rekomendasyon ng mga eksperto at mga doktor na pansamantalang ipagpaliban muna sana ang pagpapaluwag ng health protocols tulad ng pagpapaikli ng distansya ng mga tao sa pampublikong sasakyan,” Go said in a statement.
“Huwag nating isugal kung may posibilidad na mas kumalat ang sakit. Ayaw nating tumaas muli ang numero ng nagkakasakit, lumala ang sitwasyon at tuluyang bumagsak ang ating healthcare system,” the senator added.
Go said that comments from medical experts should be heard and given importance since they are the ones who know about health being frontliners in the country’s battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Kapag nakita kasi ng mga tao na pumayag na tayo na luwagan ang physical distancing measures sa public transportation, baka pumasok sa isip ng tao na pwede na palang maging kampante sa iba pang lugar. Mahihirapan tayo na limitahan lang sa transportation aspect ang polisyang ito,” Go said.
The senator stressed that studies by experts have shown that physical distancing is one of the most effective ways to avoid transmission of COVID-19 and that in addressing the needs of the public and transport sector, authorities should seek ways to help the livelihood of public utility vehicle drivers “without putting at risk their lives and the lives of others.”
Go urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to instead allow more public utility vehicles on the road.
“Pag-aralan rin natin kung pwedeng i-subsidize muna ng gobyerno para hindi malugi ang PUVs pero mapanatili pa rin ang pagpapatupad ng mga patakarang poprotekta sa kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan,” Go said.
“We should balance the convenience and safety of commuters. Opening the economy should not be at the expense of keeping the riding public safe from COVID-19,” he added.
The DOTr earlier announced that it would push through with its plan to gradually reduce the 1-meter rule in public vehicles, starting with 0.75 meters to help the public transport sector recover from the lockdowns brought by the pandemic.
The move was also seen to stimulate the growth of the economy.