DOTr, NCRPO Step Up for Holy Week Exodus
As the Holy Week break from April 18 to 20 draws closer, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) are gearing up for the annual exodus of travelers to the provinces.
From April 8 to 25, the DOTr will implement its 'Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2019' to "ensure a safe and convenient commuting experience for passengers who will troop to the ports, terminals and airports across the country."
"It is important for the DOTr to ensure the safety and welfare of the riding public," said Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade in a statement. "That is why I have instructed all attached agencies to exert all efforts to assure safe and comfortable travel to our countrymen as they go to the provinces or vacation spots during the Holy Week."
As of April 1, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has received 484 special permit petitions for 1,133 bus units that will travel in Northern and Southern Luzon, Bicol, Visayas and Mindanao from April 14 to 22.
In its capacity, the LTFRB will also conduct random inspections of units and franchise documents beginning April 10, with the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (i-ACT) to ensure the safety of the passengers in areas where i-ACT operates, and with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Highway Patrol Group (HPG), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in other parts of the country. It will also intensify its operations against illegal or 'colorum' public utility vehicles and taxicabs with franchise violations.
Passenger assistance desks that will be operating on a 24/7 basis will likewise be installed in major ports, terminals, and airports in the country to address queries and complaints. The help desks will provide various services, such as emergency medical assistance, food and free calls to landline and mobile phones of passengers who might be stranded, and booking rides from taxis and transportation network vehicle service units.
As for the NCRPO, it will reportedly deploy 11,600 policemen to secure vital installations, bus terminals, jeepney stops, airports and seaports, churches, and other pilgrimage sites--and even residential areas--to ensure a peaceful observance of the Holy Week.
According to NCRPO Chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the policemen will complement existing security measures such as checkpoints to deter criminals' activities and will secure bus terminals, seaports, and airports. In addition, assistance desks manned by uniformed personnel and K9 units will also be set up in these facilities.
Entry and exit points to and from Metro Manila will also be secured, Eleazar said.
The NCRPO is also coordinating with officials of the 17 local government units in Metro Manila and with private security agencies tasked to guard business establishments and subdivisions as criminals usually take advantage when many houses are empty as their owners are away for vacation.
"Kaya nga tayo nagbibigay payo sa mga magbabakasyon sa probinsya na dapat naka-securelahat ang ating mga bahay at kung pwede mag-iwan tayo ng kaunting ilaw. Wag din po natin sabihin sa lahat na wala pong tao sa bahay natin especially in social media (We advise those going to the province to secure their houses and leave some lights on. Let us also refrain from telling others that nobody is home, especially on social media)," Metro Manila's top cop said.
The public can report any untoward incidents or crimes through the NCRPO hotline 0915-888-8181 or 0999-901-8181.
The NCRPO chief also reminded vacationers to make sure their vehicles are in good running condition to avoid accidents.