Metro Manila community quarantine transportation restrictions: Here’s what you need to know

Robie de Guzman   •   March 14, 2020   •   1758

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday, March 14 released a set of guidelines for public transportation restrictions during the implementation of the community quarantine in Metro Manila effective Sunday, March 15 to April 14.

Under the guidelines, drivers and operators of public utility vehicles need to observe the following passenger limit:

  • UV Express van should not have more than six (6) passengers including driver; passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Public jeepneys should not board more than half of their regular capacity including driver, passengers should be one seat apart
  • Public buses should not have more than 25 passengers including driver and conductor, without any standing passenger. Passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Taxis/Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS), including accredited airport taxis should not have more than four passengers, including driver. One seat apart distance between passengers should be maintained.
  • Multiple bookings for a single trip provided by the TNVS is prohibited.

Provincial buses and inter-regional trips of jeepneys and UV Express traveling to and from Metro Manila shall be terminated on the entry points identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Buses and jeepneys will be waiting at these entry points for unloaded passengers from outside Metro Manila.

Drivers and conductors should also remind passengers to be ready to present valid company ID, which shows the address of workplace, and government-issued ID, which shows their place of residence.

Point-to-Point (P2P) Buses from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark International Airport and Sangley Airport shall be allowed to operate as scheduled, subject to protocols or procedures of the Department of Health (DOH) and the PNP.

The guidelines also stated that the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis is suspended during the quarantine.

Authorities also directed operators to inform their drivers and conductors to be observant of their passengers and bring them to the nearest hospital should they manifest any symptom of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including cough, fever and breathing difficulty. They are also required to report the incident to the DOH and the PNP for proper handling.

For train services, the guidelines state the following:

  • Trains and platform shall be loaded at reduced capacity of 25% to reduce the concentration of passengers per train. One-meter social distancing rule will also be maintained.
  • Women and senior citizens section of train cars will be further separated to designated a subsection for the elderly.
  • Philippine National Railways (PNR) operations from Alabang to Calamba in Laguna and vice versa is suspended during the quarantine period.
  • Trains, including its interiors, and station premises and surfaces frequently touched by the public will also have to be disinfected at least every loop or every time a train reaches its end-stations.

The guidelines also directed station personnel to regulate the entry of passengers from station platforms to trains.

For air travel, the guidelines state that:

  • All domestic flights to and from Metro Manila are suspended; exemptions include cargo flights air ambulance, and government supplies, government military flights, weather mitigation flights, and maintenance and utility flights.
  • General aviation flights are also suspended during the quarantine period, and will be diverted to Sangley Airport and Clark Airport.
  • Special airport-to-airport international flight arranged by the airlines, and coordinated with airport authorities are allowed.
  • Passengers of international/commercial flights may opt to terminate flight in Metro Manila, and arrange their own transport within the region
  • Local airlines will also be endeavored by Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to operate sweeper flights out of Manila and into other airports.

Issuance of access passes for visitors is suspended, and only passengers and essential personnel are allowed to enter and exit airport terminals.

The guidelines also stated that one-meter social distancing among passengers shall be observed.

For sea travel, the following measures shall be strictly implemented:

  • Passenger traffic in all ports going in and out of Metro Manila will be suspended during the quarantine period.
  • Ferry services within Metro Manila will continue to operate but with 50% capacity per vessel.
  • Ships plying routes within Metro Manila will be allowed to dock at ports outside the region upon application for the issuance of special permit with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
  • Cargo vessels are still allowed to move to and from Metro Manila. Cargo trucks/vans going in and out of Port of Manila shall present a Cargo Entry/Withdrawal Permit secured from the Philippine Ports Authority for validation at designated checkpoints.
  • Foreign and domestic ships are directed to unload their wastes as the next port of call outside Metro Manila as waste reception services at the ports shall be suspended.

Authorities said the guidelines for transportation restrictions shall take effect immediately and shall be applicable until the declaration of public health emergency of international concern has been lifted.

The DOTr, however, stressed that these measures are subject to daily review and revision as necessary.

Checkpoint gimmick gets residents to stay at home

Marje Pelayo   •   March 28, 2020

PAMPANGA, Philippines — Filipinos are known for their creativity and propensity to look on the brighter side of life when faced with any crisis.

Authorities found it a challenge to keep everyone inside their homes under the enhanced community quarantine when the risk of getting infected with the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is high.

To emphasize the importance of home quarantine, checkpoint police at Sto. Tomas in Pampanga thought of a drastic way to convince residents.

They placed an empty coffin at checkpoints and posted a grim reminder: “Stay at Home or Stay Inside.”

Meanwhile, Barangay Sto. Niño in the municipality of San Simon, Pampanga also made use of coffins to deter residents from violating the curfew.

They would make rounds at night carrying a coffin as if on the lookout to fill it with those who are foolish enough to cross their path beyond curfew hours.

Credits to: Louella Castillo Gutierrez

Police Regional Office 3 Director PBGen. Rhodel Sermonia expressed support for the initiative of his men as such measures would deter residents from violating home quarantine and community quarantine protocols.

Sermonia made rounds to inspect each checkpoint in his area and to personally remind motorists to practice preventive measures against COVID-19.

“Ikaw kuya? Wala ka man lang protective guard, hindi ba kayo natatakot? Hindi ba kayo natatakot dito? Sinabi na nga. Basahin mo, ano’ng nakalagay dyan (You? You are not even wearing a protective guard, are you not afraid? Are you not afraid of this? It’s a warning. You read it. What does it say?),” Sermonia said accosting a resident explaining the importance of wearing personal protective gear.  

“Bilhin mo na lahat ang gusto mong bilhin ngayon. Dapat isang beses lang sila sa isang araw. Kapag kayo na-infection, kawawa po kayo (You buy everything you need now. You should only be going out once a day. Once you get infected, you’d suffer),” he told a motorist who was on his way to buy goods.

The general also stressed strict practice of physical distancing among residents walking on the streets.

He personally checked each passerby for their home quarantine pass to make sure they were authorized to go out.

The national government’s enhanced community quarantine is on its 10th day which orders all residents in Luzon to stay at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Authorities appealed to the public to refrain from non-essential movements outside their homes to avoid contracting the disease. MNP (with inputs from Lea Ylagan)

MRT-3 orders sanction on security guard caught jogging on train tracks

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 27, 2020

The management Merto Rail Transit (MRT-3) has ordered Kaizen Security Agency to sanction the security guard caught on video jogging on the MRT-3 train tracks.

Based on the management’s initial investigation, the individual in the viral video is a security guard from Kaizen Security Agency who is assigned at MRT-3 Ortigas Station.

“This action is prohibited and will not be tolerated. Thus, the MRT-3 Management has immediately directed Kaizen to apply the necessary sanctions against the guard involved,” their statement reads.

The MRT-3 reminded their personnel to be more cautious of their actions and “follow all rules and regulations enforced by the management to avoid this kind of scenario.” AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Health workers need no DOH accreditation amid enhanced community quarantine —Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   March 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles clarified that health workers are not required to apply for accreditation from the Department of Health (DOH).

Nograles said health workers may present their professional license cards issued by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and an ID card issued by their employer.

These ID cards are enough for them to be exempted from the strict protocols imposed under the enhanced community quarantine due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Napaka-importante po ng tungkulin at trabaho ng ating mga health workers,” the Spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said.

“Our health workers, you are our real-life heroes. We thank you for your sacrifice and your service to the nation. Alam ko po kung gaano kahirap ang trabaho po ninyo at ang tungkulin ninyo kaya hindi namin kayo pahihirapan dito sa accreditation IDs,” he added.

Nograles assured that the government has provided free transport service for health workers affected by the suspension of mass transport during the course of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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