Palace: ‘Traditional’ jeepneys on roads amid GCQ still ‘out of the question’
MANILA, Philippines — Allowing the deployment of traditional passenger jeepneys on the roads is “out of the question” for now, Malacañang said Wednesday as it pointed to other possible livelihood options for drivers, including a suggestion to employ them as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contact tracers.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque reasoned that physical distancing is almost impossible in jeepneys where passengers aboard are seated facing each other.
“It’s not in the immediate horizon because it’s almost a physical impossibility to have social distancing when passengers face each other in a jeepney,” Roque said in an interview over ANC, when asked on possibly allowing the deployment of jeepneys.
“However, there are now modern jeepneys being deployed where the sitting arrangement is similar to buses and I understand these kinds of modern jeepneys might be deployed sooner or later. The traditional face-to-face jeepney, out of the question for now,” he added.
Jeepneys and UV Express vehicles remain prohibited to ply on their routes even as more businesses were allowed to resume partial operations under a general community quarantine (GCQ).
These will only be allowed to resume operations on June 22, when the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) second phase of public transportation resumption starts.
But some jeepney drivers held protests against the ban saying they have been deprived of their source of livelihood for over two months due to lockdown measures.
“We’re actually considering alternative livelihoods for them, there’s a suggestion that they be employed as contact tracers because we do need about 120,000 of them and there’s only about 30,000 employed so far,” Roque said.
“And we’re also considering the complete reconfiguration of the jeepney to comply with minimum health standards.”
The Department of Health (DOH) said it is still short of about 94,000 contact tracers for COVID-19 to achieve the ideal ratio of one contact tracer per 800 persons.
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