With the entire island of Luzon placed under the "Enhanced Community Quarantine" (ECQ), public transportation has been indefinitely suspended for the time being. Apart from several sanctioned buses/shuttles that will ferry health workers, and other front line personnel, all other types of public vehicles are banned from plying the streets.
However, there were some that were defiant and planned to continue offering their services. This earned them the ire of Philippine National Police – Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) who was able to flag down some 600 taxis along EDSA yesterday.
In a statement, PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said that all types of public utility vehicles (PUVs) be apprehended should they continue to operate during the ECQ.
“I told the Highway Patrol, specifically, apprehend everyone. If needed, we will impound all of them. Probably later, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), would really come up with a clear order that all are suspended so that if they are apprehended, it is not only the ticket of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) that they're going to face,” said Gamboa.
Members of the PNP-HPG were able to apprehend the said taxis and lined them up along EDSA Greenhills. HPG Director Brig. General Eliseo Cruz said that they got the names of the taxis and their respective operators. They also took photos of their driver's licenses, plate numbers, and vehicle registrations. All of these will then be submitted to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for appropriate action. In the meantime, the drivers were given a warning and were allowed to go home.
Brig. General Cruz also reminded the taxi drivers that the ban on PUVs not only covers Metro Manila, but all of Luzon.
“Nakikita nyo karamihan nahuli natin taxi kasi wala na talaga ang mga bus ipinatupad na ng kanilang mga operator na huwag na silang bumiyahe. Bumiyahe itong mga taxi ang mga dahilan, hindi daw nila alam,”[You see, many of those apprehended were taxis because there are no buses anymore. Their operators told them not to operate. These taxis still went on operation because their reason is that they are not aware] said Cruz.
However, one driver by the name of Eufracio Cartajenas, said that he attempted to drive yesterday in order to make a living as this is his only way of earning money.
With the ECQ set to last until April 14, 2020, it will be quite a while before public transportation will be allowed to operate once more not just in Metro Manila, but in the entire island of Luzon as well. Let's hope that the current situation improves. As always; stay safe, stay indoors, and always wash your hands.