On Jun. 1, commuters were left stranded on the roads due to lack of public transportation amid the easing of community quarantine restrictions to allow more movement and businesses to revive the economy. However, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia placed the blame on the commuters for the chaos that ensued on the roads.
According to Inquirer, Garcia cited crowds of commuters spotted at Commonwealth Avenue waiting for public transit that never came. “They were focused on traveling even though they [knew], just as the Department of Transportation said, our first priority is health and safety,” Garcia said. He also denounced the crowding on a police truck that arrived to ferry stranded commuters.
Dahil walang masakyan, napuwersang sumakay sa mga truck at police patrol car ang ilang commuter ngayong Lunes ng umaga sa Commonwealth Avenue, unang araw ng GCQ sa Metro Manila. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News #COVID19quarantine #CommuterPatrol pic.twitter.com/Sq3nV1vTVa
— DZMM TeleRadyo (@DZMMTeleRadyo) June 1, 2020
“When they saw the free rides, many commented on social media that commuters fought over these, they were on the road, there were no lines. They were each to his own and forgot that the priority is to stay safe from [the coronavirus],” Garcia said.
In line with this, some employers required their employees to go back to work despite not providing the government-required shuttle services needed when resuming company operations.
Senator Nancy Binay earlier called out the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for not prioritizing commuters in the general community quarantine (GCQ) guidelines in Metro Manila.
According to Inquirer, the senator dared the DOTr to try commuting in the metropolis. “Eh, kung subukan kaya ng mga opisyal ng DOTr mag-commute mula sa kani-kanilang bahay papasok sa opisina nila [sa Clark o Ortigas]? Dapat maramdaman nila ang hirap na pinagdadaanan ng mga commuter.”
Only yesterday, Jun. 2, MMDA not only removed an improvised bike lane along Commonwealth made by a cycling advocacy group, but will also be fining the volunteers P1,000 each.
The DOTr allowed the operations of three metro trains, the Philippine National Railways, taxis and ride-hailing company cars at limited capacity. However, jeepneys, UV Express vans, and city buses, which take the most accessible routes through business districts, were banned—ensuing difficulties for the country’s working force to go to work.
Header photo courtesy of Grig Montegrande of Philippine Daily Inquirer
Get more stories like this by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here.
Writer: THEA TORRES