Recto bats for return of traditional jeepneys on the road
MANILA, Philippines — For Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, traditional jeepneys should be allowed to return on the road saying the present design of these passenger vehicles are “good to go.”
In a statement on Thursday, Recto said that before such jeepneys are modernized, the traditional jeepneys should be allowed to have “their last patrol.”
“We do this not for sentimental reasons, but because it is based on science,” Recto said. “With their open windows and a layout which guarantees free flow of air, they are, from a health point of view, one of the safest forms of public transportation.”
“Drivers, on their own, have reconfigured their jeepneys to comply with health rules like physical distancing. They are good to go,” he added.
Recto also said that it was a “pity” that only a third of jeepneys in Metro Manila to ply back to the streets.
“For every jeepney denied to operate are hundreds of breadwinners denied a safe ride to work and back home,” he said.
Previously, the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced that it allowed 1,159 traditional jeepneys to ply 28 routes in Metro Manila starting last Monday, Sept. 14.
With the additional number of jeepneys allowed to return to Metro Manila roads, the LTFRB has so far approved at least 206 routes for traditional jeepneys with 17,372 units.
According to data from the LTFRB, there were 55,000 jeepneys operating in Metro Manila before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shut down public transport.
Aside from allowing traditional jeepneys to be back on the road, Recto also suggested that its drivers be “the first in line to benefit from the service contracting scheme which Bayanihan 2 mandates.”
During a House committee on transportation hearing, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor said that P5.6 billion of Bayanihan 2 will be allocated for the service contracting scheme, where public transport drivers will provide services based on a plan prepared by the LTFRB and agreed upon by operators.
“Transportation joins test, track and treat as our tools in fighting the pandemic. But workers should only be allowed to get back to work if it is guaranteed that COVID will not be hitching a ride,” Recto said.
And as for the DOTr’s plan to reduce physical distancing in public transportation, he said: “Let science be the arbiter of this intra-Cabinet debate—which we should welcome because best ideas are forged when they clash.”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier announced that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade manifested in a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases that the one-meter physical distancing in public vehicles stays such until President Rodrigo Duterte decides on the issue.
“Science should solely decide if the proposal, when applied to the LRT and MRT, will make them safe, or as dangerous as the Train to Busan,” Recto said.
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