DOTr: 70% PUV capacity in NCR stays, MM mayors to restrict movement of unvaccinated

EDSA

While the COVID-19 cases are now on the rise, the leadership of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced that it will be keeping the 70-percent maximum passenger capacity on public utility vehicles.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • What is the allowed passenger capacity on public utility vehicles?

    Public transport vehicles are allowed to ferry up to 70 percent of its total passenger capacity.
  • What is the MMDA Resolution No. 22-01?

    The latest resolution allows local government units in the National Capital Region to impose their respective ordinances that will regulate the mobility of those who are not inoculated.
  • In a statement, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said that the abovementioned limit will remain to support the need for public mobility.

    The transportation department noted that any adjustments or changes of the allowable maximum passenger capacity in public transportation will be subject to the guidance of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

    EDSA traffic

    “With the continued rise of COVID-19 cases in NCR, the DOTr enjoins our land-based transport operators to remind passengers to strictly observe minimum health protocols and ensure that the maximum allowable passenger capacity is followed,” Tugade was quoted as saying.

    “We cannot let our guard down. Following the government’s minimum health protocol is for our greater good. We must remain vigilant so we can reverse the uptick of cases in the country,” he added.

    Meanwhile, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor said road sector agencies will focus on the enforcement of the 70-percent seating threshold. “The DOTr Road Sector will make sure that the maximum passenger capacity is strictly followed. As COVID-19 cases increase in the NCR (National Capital Region), we are urging our transport stakeholders, especially the riding public, to observe health protocols, and to be wary of PUVs not following the allowable capacity. This is the only way we can help in reducing the number of infections,” Pastor explained.

    MMDA PITX inspection

    In a memorandum January 2, 2022, the LTO reminded land-based transportation stakeholders to closely supervise their drivers and conductors and ensure that they strictly adhere to health protocols.

    The DOTr reminded that those who are not complying with the health protocols onboard PUVs or non-observance of the current passenger capacity order are considered violations of franchise conditions and could face penalties ranging from hefty fines to the impounding of the involved vehicle unit.

    Aside from that, driver’s licenses of the drivers who are not enforcing the 70-percent maximum passenger capacity rule may be suspended and drivers may face additional criminal complaints.

    MMDA inspection

    Last November 15, the LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular No. 2021-065 that allowed members of the vulnerable population (minors, pregnant women, those over 65 years old, with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks), to use public utility vehicles under Alert levels 1 and 2 while still observing health protocols.

    Moreover, Tugade urged the public to strictly follow the Seven Commandments for Public Transport upon the recommendations of health experts.

    • Wear face masks;
    • No talking and making phone calls;
    • No eating;
    • Keep public utility vehicles well ventilated;
    • Conduct of frequent disinfection;
    • No passengers with COVID-19 symptoms are to be allowed inside the public transportation;
    • Observe appropriate physical distancing rule

    “It is the responsibility of each individual to comply with this requirement. These 7 Commandments for Public Transport create a sense of Bayanihan among us Filipinos, which is needed in the fight against the pandemic,” Tugade shared.

    MMC approves limited mobility for unvaxxed individuals

    Relatedly, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos said that the Metro Manila Council (MMC) — which is composed of mayors in the NCR — agreed to impose enhanced restrictions on individuals who are unvaccinated against COVID-19.

    With that, the MMDA created Resolution No. 22-01 that urged the local government units in Metro Manila to impose their respective ordinances that will regulate the mobility of those who are not inoculated.

    “The advances in public health and the economic gains that have been achieved in the recent months under Alert Level 2 must be sustained and pre-emptive measures must be adopted in order to forestall and immediately address the perceived adverse impact of COVID-19, particularly the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, upon the NCR under said Alert Level 3,” the resolution stated.

    Public utility bus

    “Despite the availability of vaccines, there is a number of individuals who adamantly opt not to be vaccinated and thus, become more susceptible to severe cases of COVID-19 infection which will in turn require hospital care thereby unduly burdening the health care system to the detriment of public health,” it added.

    Among the restrictions that the Metro Manila mayors agreed to is the “prohibition of domestic travel via public transportation by land, sea, and air except for the procurement of essential goods and services such as, but not limited to, food, water, medicine, medical devices, public utilities, and energy, work, and medical and dental necessities subject to the production of proof to support and justify such travel.”

    Aside from that, unvaccinated individuals are limited on the following:

    • remain in their residences at all times except for the procurement of essential goods and services (allowed are individual outdoor exercise shall be allowed within the general area of their residence, subject to the guidelines of the Metro Manila LGUs);
    • prohibited in indoor and outdoor/al fresco dining in restaurants and other food establishments as well as leisure or social trips to malls, hotels, event venues, sports and country clubs, and similar facilities in accordance with the guidelines of the Metro Manila LGUs and the concerned establishments;
    • required to undergo a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT PCR) test every two  weeks at their personal expense and present a COVID-19 negative result prior to being admitted for work onsite consistent with the guidelines, rules, and regulations issued by the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) and the Department of Labor and Employment; Provided, however, that in the event that the RT PCR test and/or result is/are not immediately available, a Rapid Antigen Test may be utilized in lieu thereof.

    The same rules shall also cover individuals who reside outside of the NCR but who work and/or travel to the region.

    Abalos — appealing for public understanding — assured that restrictions for the unvaccinated will be lifted once Metro Manila reverts back to a lower alert level.

    “These are just temporary measures while the NCR is under Level 3 for the protection of unvaccinated individuals amid the spiking number of COVID cases in the region,” Abalos explained.

    Those who will be caught violating the protocols can face penalties from a fine of P20,000-P50,000 or of one- to six-months jail time (or both, subject to the discretion of the proper court).

    Furthermore, those who will be caught falsifying COVID-19 cards shall be prosecuted under Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code, as amended, pursuant to Section 12 of Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.

    Photos from Ruben D. Manahan IV, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority

    Also read:

    NCR back to Alert Level 3 restrictions, transport sector to implement basic health protocols

    DOTr eyes pilot run of full PUV passenger capacity in Metro Manila

    PUV Drivers, Passengers Urged to take Safety Measures Vs Covid-19

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