The time that people have been waiting for has come: on June 1, Metro Manila will be under General Community Quarantine. That means businesses, can re-open, industries will restart, and public transportation will be available for all who are allowed to leave their homes.
After last night’s press conference, along with another one of our news items today, almost every form of public transport will be allowed to operate except one: the jeepneys. Why?
A bit of background information: before last night, the Metro Manila Council (MMC) composed of 17 mayors in Metro Manila have already recommended that public utility vehicles be allowed to operate once MECQ is lifted. This is with the exception of jeepneys.
Fast-forward to today and it is official, the “Hari ng Daan” will not be seen on our roads yet it seems. This was confirmed by the infographic released by the Department of Transportation, wherein the older PUJ was not included in the list of the allowed forms of public transportation from June 1.
On June 22, most forms of public road transport will be given permission such as buses, UV Express, and modern PUVs, but no mention of the jeepney whatsoever.
“Bubuksan na natin yung mass transportation or public transportation, except for yung sasakyan tulad ng traditional jeepney dahil mahirap ipatupad ang physical distancing dito at kailangan mag-repurpose sila o magreconfigure ng upuan,” said Eduardo Año, Vice-Chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
[We will open mass and public transportation except for traditional jeepneys. It will be difficult to practice physical distancing inside and they have to re-purpose or re-configure their seats first.]
Everyone’s health and well being have been made the absolute priorities even as we ease quarantines across the Metro, but this of course raises some questions for jeepney operators and jeepney-riding commuters alike.
The Department of Transportation has even released an infographic for proper seating and spacing in public utility vehicles, but the images pertaining to jeepneys are only for the modern PUV variety with the main door on the side, not the back.
Many will see this as a concern for the poor who might lose even more during this pandemic. Others may see it for what it really has been planned as which is a means to reduce the infection rate among the Filipinos. Everyone’s opinion is very valid, and we’d like to know what you think.
For what it is, for as long as the core of this ruling is the betterment and health of everyone, then it’s something we should all be willing to live with – for now.