DAYS after the lifting of the mandatory barrier in public utility vehicles (PUVs), confusion on the ground was observed as enforcers flagged down PUVs that dismantled their barriers, while some jeepneys took advantage by catering passengers up to 100-percent seating capacity.
Eduardo Maas, a public utility jeepney (PUJ) driver plying the routes of Mintal, was one of those drivers who were given citation tickets by an enforcer of the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) early Wednesday morning, November 3, after his unit was seen without a barrier.
Despite explaining that this was no longer mandated by the City Government, even showing the screenshot executive order (EO) posted on the City Government of Davao Facebook page, the enforcer disregarded his explanation and issued him a violation ticket.
Arthur, name withheld, who was one of Maas’ passengers, also argued with the enforcer.
“Klaro kaayo nga walay klarong information dissemination sa mga personahe nila. Unta i-orient og tarong ni sila,” Arthur said.
(It is clear that there was no clear information dissemination among personnel. There should be a proper orientation to them.)
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio issued Executive Order (EO) 63 on Tuesday afternoon, November 2, lifting the mandatory use of barriers in motorcycles, jeepneys and other PUVs. This took effect immediately upon issuance of the EO.
Section 1 of EO 63 states that plastic barriers PUVs will no longer be required. However, drivers and operators must still implement the mandatory wearing of face masks and physical distancing inside their units. Section 3 states that barriers will only be “for voluntary use only.”
“There is a need to ease and loosen restrictions following the decrease in the number of cases reported and the active vaccination rollout within the city,” Duterte-Carpio said in her EO.
The issuance of the EO also came after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced that it would no longer be requiring plastic barriers in PUVs, which served as a division for passengers to observe the mandatory physical distancing.
SunStar Davao reached out to CTTMO Chief Dionisio Abude for comments on the complaints, but he has not responded as of writing.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB-Davao) Director Nonito Llanos III, meanwhile, told SunStar Davao in a phone interview that they had coordinated with the national office prior to the implementation of the EO.
“Sa amoa pung (On our) part, we always consider and respect the executive orders that are being released by the local government units (LGUs). That is why, importante gyud kaayo ang (it is important to have) coordination with LGUs, labi na karong panahona lain-lain ang sitwasyon. Pabag-o-bag-o. (especially with the changing situation.) We have to make adjustments,” Llanos said.
He said they already coordinated with CTTMO following the recent complaints and he said that he also requested a coordination meeting with other enforcement agencies.
Llanos said they will issue a regional office circular, providing detailed guidelines on the city’s EO.
‘Still around 50 percent’
The LTFRB official, meanwhile, clarified that the lifting of the barriers on PUJs in the city does not mean that jeeps can now fully cater passengers up to 100 percent capacity.
He said there should be a 0.3 meter distance between passengers, and that elbow-to-elbow contact should be avoided in order not to cause transmission from the virus.
“Around 50 percent gihapon ang dapat nila i-cater na passengers. Walay kausaban sa passenger capacity, ang nausab is ang pagtanggal sa mga barriers,” Llanos said.
(It is still around 50 percent — the maximum limit of passengers they can cater. There is no adjustment on the sitting capacity, only that we removed the barriers.)
He said the 75-percent increased seating capacity in jeepneys is only limited to the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon and Calabarzon.
He also reiterated that physical distancing must still be properly observed and that passengers must continue wearing face masks while onboard.
This after some PUJs were caught with passengers not observing physical distancing.
Llanos said some drivers might have taken advantage of the lifting of the barriers to cater to more passengers to cope up with their financial losses triggered by the continuous oil price hike.
In a previous SunStar Davao interview, LTFRB-Davao said they are currently preparing for a fuel subsidy program to aid drivers and operators affected by the continuous increase of gasoline.
Drivers who violate the physical distancing will be fined P5,000 and a possible revocation of license.