DOTr approved new social distancing rule without health experts’ consultation — Año
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) adjustment for social distancing inside public utility vehicles (PUVs) was issued without health expert’s consultation as well as approval from the government’s task force, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday.
Año, who is also the vice-chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), explained that the task force only greenlighted the recommendation to update the latest COVID-19 practices in consultation with medical experts.
“Mangyari kasi nung Sept. 7, nagkaroon ng presentation si Sec (Karl) Chua ng NEDA [National Economic and Development Authority] at doon sinabi ni Sec Chua na yung kanyang recommendation, which is inadopt ng IATF, ay ‘adopt and continuously update the latest health standards and best practices in consultation with health sectors,’” Año said over dzBB, reacting on DOTr’s approval to reduce the social distancing rules inside PUVs.
(What happened last Sept. 7, Chua had a presentation where he said his recommendation to adopt and continuously update the latest health standards and best practices in consultation with health sectors which was adopted by the IATF.)
“Kaya lang ang nangyari, nagpalabas ng guidelines ang DOTr ng walang consultation with health experts. Hindi ‘yan dumaan sa IATF,” he added.
(But what happened was, DOTr released guidelines without consultation of health experts. This did not reach the IATF.)
Last week, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade claimed the IATF and the National Task Force (NTF) allowed the proposal to decrease physical distancing inside PUVs to 0.75 meters from one meter, which is recommended by the World Health Organization.
The new social distancing rule was implemented on Monday, Sept. 14.
The interior department chief also hoped that DOTr would rescind their order to reduce social distancing as the directive did not undergo approval.
“I hope so. First, wala namang approval ng IATF; malayo ‘yung sinabi nila. Dapat nakipagusap muna sila sa health experts. Para malinaw talaga kung ano epekto niyan,” he said when questioned if the DOTr will revoke their order on the revised social distancing rule inside public transport.
(I hope so. First of all, the IATF did not approve it; it was far from what they said. They should have spoken to health experts first. So that the effects are clear.)
Año has previously opposed the new distancing rule, saying he preferred that DOTr should field more PUVs to serve commuters while the community quarantine is still in effect.
Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran, however, said the new rule was approved by IATF and supported by Cabinet secretaries.
“No, it is not true. It was expressly stated in the minutes of the meeting on Sept. 7 that the IATF has approved the reduction of physical distancing in public transport to .5 meter. The proposal was supported by other Cabinet secretaries. Hindi naman po mag-iimbento lang ng polisiya ang DOTr (The DOTr would not just invent policies). This was approved by the IATF on Sept. 7. No one objected,” she said.
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