Press Release
June 7, 2020

Hontiveros appeals for allowing jeeps, buses to operate again under social distancing rules

"Hindi lang dapat para sa mga may sasakyan ang kalsada natin. Kung may social distancing naman, bakit hindi payagan na ang mga jeep at bus?"

This was the remark of Senator Risa Hontiveros, who today urged government to immediately allow jeeps and buses to operate in Metro Manila as it enters its second week of general community quarantine (GCQ), as long as social distancing and other protocols to protect commuters from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are strictly observed.

"It is in the best interest of the commuting public and the transport sector alike if jeeps and buses soon resume operations provided they follow social distancing and other health guidelines", urged Hontiveros.

The senator made her call after Malacañang earlier said that only a limited number of buses can ply their routes, while jeepneys are still not permitted to operate since government is still studying how social distancing can be practiced inside such vehicles. The restrictions, Hontiveros said, has resulted only to continued income loss for drivers and operators, and increased health risks for commuters who endure long walks or crowded lines just to get to their destination.

"Marami na tayong halimbawa sa iba't- ibang siyudad kung paano ang dapat na social distancing sa loob ng jeep at bus. Mas walang social distancing at health protections sa iilang truck at utility van ng pamahalaan na nagpapasakay sa mga tao ngayon," she said.

According to Hontiveros, government should speed up its release of comprehensive health guidelines that jeep and bus operators, drivers and passengers must follow, so that these modes of public transportation can become available at the soonest. "Sinayang ng Department of Transportation ang mahigit dalawang buwang quarantine. Dapat may guidelines na ngayon," she said.

"Whether plastic barriers, alternating seat arrangements or social distancing in passenger lines, I am sure drivers, operators and commuters themselves are willing to comply with all guidelines that government will require. Kung may sapat na transport options sa mga lansangan, mas hindi desperado ang publiko at mas madali natin silang mapapasunod sa mga health protocols," she added.

Hontiveros also said that proposals to train jeepney drivers as contact tracers for COVID-19 cases are simply counterproductive: "Imbes na gumastos ang pamahalaan para itrain ang mga driver sa mga gawain na hindi nila gamay, bakit hindi na lang gamitin ang pera na yan para siguraduhin ang social distancing at protective measures sa mga jeep at bus para makabiyahe na sila ulit?"

Hontiveros then reiterated her call for government to explore service contracting with the transport sector, to help ensure ample income for drivers and operators . "Kung may service contracting, siguradong may maiuuwing kita ang mga driver at operator mabawasan man ang mga pasahero na naisasakay nila kada biyahe dahil sa social distancing."

"Hindi tamang ang nakaka-biyahe lang ngayon ay ang mga naka-aircon na sasakyan. DoTr should stop being anti-poor," Hontiveros concluded.

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