CAB halts domestic flights in first week of GCQ

Marje Pelayo   •   June 1, 2020   •   161

MANILA, Philippines — The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has suspended the operation of all domestic flights previously scheduled for the first week of June.

The agency made it clear in a memorandum that it has not approved any domestic air flights set for the first week of the relaxed restrictions under the general community quarantine

The Civil Aeronautics Board ordered all airline companies to cancel all of their scheduled flights for this week and temporarily stop selling plane tickets.

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque announced that flight schedules are being reviewed.

He also assured that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will issue guidelines on the matter soon.

“Theoretically po, ang lahat ng flights ng GCQ to GCQ ay papayagan na, [Theoretically, GCQ to GCQ flights are already allowed],” Roque said.

“Pero aantayin po natin ang CAAP na sila po ang mag-provide ng guidelines at kinakailangan din ng panahon ng ating mga airline companies para maghanda po sa resumption ng kanilang operations, [However, we need to wait for CAAP to provide the guidelines and airline companies also need time to prepare for the resumption of their operations],” he added.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has yet to identify which terminals will reopen.

Meanwhile, several airline companies have already submitted their respective flight schedules to MIAA and CAAP for review. 

The Philippine Airlines (PAL) has previously announced the resumption of operations for both international and local flights though the company also advised its clients of possible changes depending on the situation relative to the existing quarantine restrictions.

Cebu Pacific was supposed to resume domestic flights on June 2 and Air Asia on June 3.

International flights are now operating at NAIA Terminal 1 limited to only 400 passengers daily capacity based on the IATF order.

Meanwhile, Terminal 2 only caters to repatriation, sweeper flights and commercial flights by PAL. 

Terminal 3, on the other hand, will serve as a flight station for Cebu Pacific and Air Asia. 

Terminal 4, still remains closed. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

LTFRB OKs OFG-compliant PUJs to ply 15 Metro Manila routes amid GCQ

Maris Federez   •   June 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Modern public utility jeepneys (PUJs) were given the green light to ply 15 routes starting Monday (June 22) to serve 15 areas in Metro Manila as the transition into the “new normal” continues under general community quarantine (GCQ), according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

In a memorandum circular dated June 19, 2020, the LTFRB said that modern PUJs or those units that have complied with the requirements set by the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) will be allowed to traverse the routes that were initially identified by the board.

The memorandum circular covers “operators of OFG-compliant PUJs that have already consolidated themselves as juridical entities under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) with valid and existing Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC).”

It also covers operators who “have been granted Provisional Authority (PA) for OFG-compliant PUJs operating in the National Capital Region, and those that will be entering Metro Manila from nearby provinces,” the circular added.

“The resumption of PUJ operations in 15 routes in Metro Manila is part of our calibrated response to restore mass transportation in Metro Manila and in the adjacent provinces as we transition into new normal, taking into consideration the strict health protocols being enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III.

Operators with expired PAs or CPCs who are covered by LTFRB Board Resolution No. 062 dated April 29, 2020 and LTFRB Board Resolution No. 100 dated May 9, 2020 are also covered by the memorandum circular.

With this, LTFRB has allowed 308 OFG-compliant modern jeepneys to ply the initial 15 Metro Manila routes, as follows:

  1. Novaliches – Malinta via Paso de Blas
  2. Bagumbayan Taguig – Pasig via San Joaquin
  3. Fort Bonifacio Gate 3 – Guadalupe-Market Market-ABC Loop Service
  4. Pandacan – Leon Guinto
  5. Quezon Avenue – LRT 5th Avenue Station
  6. Cubao (Diamond) – Roces Super Palengke
  7. EDSA Buendia-Mandaluyong City Hall via Jupiter, Rockwell
  8. Divisoria-Gasak via H. Lopez
  9. Punta-Quiapo via Sta. Ana
  10. Boni Pinatubo – Stop and Shop, vice versa
  11. Boni Robinson’s Complex-Kalentong/JRC vice versa
  12. Nichols-Vito Cruz
  13. Filinvest City Loop
  14. Alabang Town Center (ATC)-Ayala Alabang Village
  15. Vito Cruz Taft Avenue-PITX Loop Service

Several more routes are to be opened for the PUJs on June 24 and 26 to serve other parts of Metro Manila that are adjacent to provinces.

For June 24, 2020:

  1. Bagong Silang – SM Fairview
  2. Malanday – Divisoria via M.H. del Pilar
  3. Parang, Marikina – Cubao
  4. Eastwood, Libis – Capitol Commons
  5. Gasak – Recto via Dagat-dagatan
  6. PITx – Lawton
  7. Alabang – Zapote
  8. PITX – Nichols
  9. PITX – SM Southmall

For June 26, 2020:

  1. Quirino Highway – UP Town Center
  2. SM Fairview – Commonwealth via Regalado Ave.
  3. QMC Loop
  4. Tikling – Binangonan
  5. Antipolo – Pasig via East Bank Road
  6. Rosario – Pinagbuhatan Pasig
  7. West Avenue – P. Noval via Del Monte
  8. Biñan – Balibago via Manila South Road
  9. Tramo – Sucat
  10. San Isidro – Congressional Junction Dasmarinas

The memorandum further stated that “aside from being compliant to the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, the modern jeepneys that will be plying routes during the GCQ must also be currently registered and with valid personal passenger insurance policies.”

“The modern jeepneys must also be equipped with GNSS (global navigation satellite system) or global positioning system for proper monitoring of movement,” it added.

Also, “as part of the enforcement of health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (CIVID-19), jeepneys will have to make use of cashless fare payments. Jeepney operators and drivers must make sure that commuters can make use of their mobile apps or contactless smart cards to pay for fares,” the circular read.

It also reminded jeepney drivers, conductors and passengers that wearing of face masks at all times is a must.

It further said that “drivers or operators should provide a disinfecting foot bath for passengers to use before boarding the jeepney, and physical distancing must strictly be observed inside the jeepneys. The passenger load of each jeepney must not exceed 50 percent of its seating capacity (excluding the driver and conductor).”

Passengers, on the other hand, must be one seat apart and that the seats that they will occupy must be properly marked in the vehicle. Also, no standing passengers shall be allowed.

The circular added that “should jeepney operators wish to maximize the 50 percent passenger load of the unit, impermeable barriers to separate the driver’s compartment and between rows of seats that are less than one meter apart, are allowed to be installed.”

Jeepneys plying the identified routes during the GCQ must also properly display the existing fare matrix for the information of the passengers, the circular further read.

Specifically, OFG-compliant non-aircon PUJs will collect a minimum fare of P11 for the first 4 kilometers and P1.50 for each succeeding kilometer, while OFG-compliant airconditioned PUJs will collect P11 for the first 4 kilometers and P1.80 for each succeeding kilometer.

“PUV operators and drivers who fail to comply with any of the aforementioned conditions will be subjected to the imposition of fines/penalties, and/or cancellation or suspension of their certificate of public convenience or provisional authority under Joint Administrative Circular No. 2014-001,” the circular concluded. —mbmf

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IATF to finalize recommendations on quarantine protocols before June 15

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) will meet this week to discuss and finalize its recommendation to the President on whether or not quarantine protocols in Metro Manila and other parts of the country will be further loosened or tightened after June 15.

The IATF said its members will meet on Wednesday, June 10, to study newly-analyzed data on the trend of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country in order to draft their resolution which will be presented for the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The task force said it is expected to meet with the president in Davao City on Thursday, June 11.

Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Pangasinan, Cagayan Valley, Central Visayas, Zamboanga City and Davao City are under general community quarantine (GCQ) from June 1 to 15.

All other areas in the country are placed under modified GCQ.

Under the GCQ guidelines, restrictions on people’s movement, public transportation and the operations of industries have been relaxed although it remains limited, provided that minimum health standards set by the government are strictly observed.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said among the factors that the IATF will look into when drafting its recommendation is the case doubling rate in the country.

He added that the data of Metro Manila and Cebu City will particularly be analyzed amid continuing increase in coronavirus infections.

“Tinitingnan po natin ang case-doubling rate, tinitingnan po natin ang critical care capacity. Kapag po ganyang tumataas, well, siyempre po may posibilidad na hindi tayo mag-graduate to the next phase. We have to look at the data of Metro Manila and Cebu City carefully,” Roque said.

But if the IATF recommends Metro Manila to be placed under the MGCQ, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said more industries will be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity.

These include industries on entertainment and kid amusement, libraries, museums, cultural centers, tourist destinations, travel agencies, tour operators, other personal care services, travel agencies, pet grooming services, internet and computer shops and other educational support establishments.

People aged 21 and below living in MGCQ areas will still be urged to remain at home but they will be allowed to do fitness and sports activities and visit leisure-related establishments.

“May mga exemption po at isa po sa exemption under MGCQ, ma-allow na po sila to exercise, do those activities na inaallow naman po under MGCQ. Ibig sabihin, mapapayagan din po silang mag-exercise sa labas at gawin ang sports activities na kailangang gawin at bisitahin ang pwede nang bisitahin,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Authorities, however, stressed that “sabong” and horse racing activities remain prohibited in the country.

“Hindi pa rin po pinayagan ang horse racing, ang sabong, pinagbabawal pa rin po,” Roque said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Recto asks gov’t to ease transport restrictions, provide more options for workers

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has urged the government to relax its restrictions on public transportation to serve commuters during the community quarantine.

“You want to restart the economy? Then let PUVs (public utility vehicles) restart their engines,” he said in a statement on Monday.

“There are three important T’s today: tests, trabaho, transportasyon. Screening for coronavirus is no longer a requisite for returning to work. But without a ride, there is no work. And no work, no pay,” he added.

Recto issued the statement a week after a general community quarantine (GCQ) took effect in Metro Manila which allowed more businesses to reopen and more employees to return to their work.

Public transportation operations were also allowed but only with limited routes and capacity to observe physical distancing and other health measures.

“Allowing workplaces to open without providing the people with the means to go there is like telling the President he can now cross the Pasig River from his residence to his office for as long he does not ride any boats,” he said.

“That, today, is the sink-or-swim situation for the nation’s breadwinners,” he added.

Recto appealed to the government to ease the “brutal” lack of transportation by allowing  husband-and-wife to ride a motorcycle in tandem.

“If they share the same bed at night, why can’t they ride a bike together during the day?” he asked.

He also believes that jeepney and UV drivers should be allowed to ply the roads again, subject to health conditions, and called on the government to partly subsidize the seats they are compelled to keep vacant since they are only allowed to operate under reduced capacity.

“And more buses, please, for they are the tickets out of temporary unemployment,” he said.

Recto also said that the establishment of safe bike lanes and mass distribution of bicycles to workers should also be accelerated.

“The Senate-approved bill reauthorizing the Bayanihan Act earmarks P17 billion for bike lanes, sidewalks, bicycles and other things which form the foundation of a national bicycle infrastructure. That amount includes test runs for a “service contracting scheme” for PUVs,” he said.

Other senators have also called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to open more bus routes to alleviate the travel woes of commuters.

The DOTr earlier said it has opened 15 rationalized bus routes in Metro Manila and nearby areas. This is half of the 31 routes that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board planned to open amid the quarantine from the previous 96 routes covering 4,600 buses.

The DOTr also appealed for public understanding as it plans to resume public transport gradually and in two phases to prevent the possible second wave of COVID-19 infections.

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