Cebu transport groups oppose air purifier rule
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Transport and militant groups have criticized the move of the provincial government to require drivers to wear handy air purifiers in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The directive of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is another burden for drivers and operators as they struggle through the pandemic, said Greg Perez, chair of Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide-Cebu (Piston-Cebu).
“The air purifier is a mere band-aid solution. What the people need now is to hasten the distribution of free and safe vaccines, and free swab testing. Mass testing and contact tracing should also be strengthened, and treatment for COVID-19 positive patients should be free,” he said.
Perez said that if Garcia wanted to make the use of air purifiers mandatory, then the governor should give these free to drivers and conductors, most of whom had been sidelined by the health crisis.
In two executive orders issued last week, Garcia required drivers and conductors of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to wear personal air purifiers when working. Transport operators in the province were also required to install in their PUVs air purifiers with high efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filters.
Garcia’s order was supposed to take effect on Aug. 16 but she decided to give drivers, conductors and operators until Aug. 25 to buy wearable air purifiers.
Violators would be given traffic citation tickets and temporary operator’s permit by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.
No DOH endorsement
Jaime Paglinawan, chair of Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno, questioned why Garcia was requiring the use of air purifiers when even the Department of Health (DOH) had not endorsed this device.
“People are clamoring for financial assistance, faster distribution of free vaccines, free mass testing and free treatment for individuals in the transport sector who have tested positive for COVID-19,” he said.
On Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that air purifiers could not provide protection against COVID-19 and would only provide a false sense of security.
“The DOH does not recommend these air purifiers. There has been no evidence yet that it is effective against the virus. While wearing air purifiers cannot harm a person, it also does not provide protection against COVID-19,” she said.
As agreed in a meeting with the governor last week, PUV operators would buy the gadgets for their drivers and conductors. Some operators decided to distribute these for free while others required drivers and operators to pay for these on staggered basis. Wearable air purifiers, which are used like a necklace, cost between P500 and P2,000 in the province.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.