Vico Sotto defends tricycle proposal amid DILG objection
Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto doubled down on Thursday on his proposal for tricycles to ferry health workers and patients throughout the city after he was met with a wall of resistance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Sotto refuted claims from officials that the three-wheelers would violate calls for social distancing, saying in a radio interview that the city would allow only up to two passengers in each tricycle.
“Tricycles are even open-air,” Sotto said. “And our proposal is a maximum of two. One in the body, one behind the driver. If the patient doesn’t need a companion, they can ride on their own. There is social distancing.”
Tricycles were one of several means of public transportation banned under the sweeping guidelines of the enhanced community quarantine throughout Luzon to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Officials asked Sotto to consider other means of transporting frontline workers or patients with emergencies, but he said a risk assessment showed tricycles were needed to augment the private vehicles being allowed to operate.
“There are emergency situations in narrow streets,” Sotto said. “Ambulances won’t fit. Buses and jeeps won’t fit.”
He added, however, that he would “defer to the wisdom” of the national government on the matter, but said that he needed to raise concerns on the ground they might not be privy to.
In a statement the day before, Sotto said it was clear after their assessment that barring tricycles from operating would be “more dangerous for the public health situation.”
“What would happen if health workers and thousands of patients needing treatment are unable to get a ride?” he said. “Will we ask a senior citizen dialysis patient to walk five kilometers? What about a cancer patient fresh out of surgery?”
He also argued that the private vehicles being encouraged by the national government would “actually be more conductive to the spread of the virus,” compared to a tricycle with passenger limits and a barrier between the driver and passenger.
Still no go
In Thursday’s Laging Handa program aired by PTV4, Interior Department spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that Sotto could come up with other ways to transport health workers.
“We respect the opinion of Mayor Vico Sotto in Pasig but we just cannot give in to his request. If we allow mass transportation in Pasig City, other localities may make similar requests. If we grant an exemption, it will defeat the entire purpose of the quarantine. Let’s just set it aside then,” he added. —With a report from Jeannette I. Andrade
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