Modified Coding to be implemented on June 1, full provisions to be announced

Since March 13, all private vehicles can be used in almost all roads of the Metro regardless of the last number of its license plate, so long as you're an APOR. Come June 1, as with all good things, this freedom may come to an end with what the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has coined as the “Modified Coding” Scheme.

After yesterday’s meeting of the Metro Manila Council (MMC, which is composed of 17 mayors in the National Capital Region), the Council has recommended the move to implement Modified Coding should the NCR be placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) starting June 1st. But what is “Modified” Coding?

In the normal Coding Scheme or the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), certain vehicles cannot be used for one day in a week depending on the last digit of their plates. Under Modified Coding, this basic premise will start being enforced again.

There are some exceptions, though. It seems that it may be possible to avoid apprehension because of coding provided that you meet a minimum number of occupants inside a coded car.

“Like what I’ve said before, there is no such thing as absolute. As much as possible, we have modified coding and we should have two passengers onboard a vehicle,” said Jojo Garcia, MMDA General Manager. This sparked some confusion and outrage especially from the medical front liners. Garcia made it clear that front liners will not be exempted from this little provision of the Modified Coding.

To avoid any confusion on the words used, we have reached out to the MMDA if this means two "passengers" (making it three occupants inside a coded car) or just two "occupants" already including the driver, and were told that "the final guidelines for the modified coding are to be announced before the transition of NCR to GCQ on June 1, 2020." This clarification will have to wait. Fair enough.

This brings the next question: will taking public transport be an option? With a possible shift into GCQ, public transport will be available, but will only be limited to transport network vehicle services (TNVS, like Grab), taxis, tricycles and pedicabs (with only one passenger allowed), shuttle services, and P2P buses. Jeeps and franchise-run buses will still not be allowed to operate.

The official guidelines, as we were advised, will be announced before the shift into GCQ on June 1, but right now, the glaring information presented is another complication for private vehicle owners and commuters alike. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. There are still about two or three working days left for an official announcement to be made. Let’s just wait for the MMC’s recommendations to the MMDA.