DOTr orders intensified activation of help desks in transport hubs for “Undas”

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2019   •   912

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday ordered its attached agencies to intensify the activation of Malasakit Help Desks (MHD) at all transport hubs across the country for the Catholic community’s annual observance of Undas.

In a statement, the DOTr said this is in line with the initiative “Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Undas 2019” aimed at ensuring the safety of travelers bound for provinces in the upcoming Undas season.

The DOTr said the help desks will be activated from October 25 to November 4, 2019, when the influx of passengers going to and coming from provinces is expected to be high.

The help desks will serve as a one-stop-shop for passenger assistance in airports, seaports, train stations, and land terminals.

“It is imperative that all our MHDs are properly manned and equipped to address the varied concerns and requests for assistance by the public, Napakaraming Pilipinong bumibiyahe tuwing Undas, at ayokong nagkukulang tayo sa pag-aasiste sa kanila,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

“Gawin nating maginhawa at maayos ang kanilang paglalakbay,” he added.

The DOTr said passengers may ask assistance from the help desks for transport-related inquiries and complaints, as well as medical emergency cases in transport hubs during Undas.

Experts see surge in COVID-19 cases if passenger capacity is raised to 75%

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is ready to implement the 75% passenger capacity in public transportation once the entire Philippines is  placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

This means more passengers will be allowed inside a public utility vehicle with reduced physical distancing.

In a statement, the DOTr said that although it recognizes the recommendation of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), they will still depend on the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

“We leave the NEDA proposal to the evaluation of the IATF being the primary agency tasked to formulate plans and rules during this period of the pandemic as the country moves forward towards the “new normal”,” the DOTr said.

“Rest assured that the DOTr will implement whatever decision the IATF and the Cabinet may arrive at,” it added.

Meanwhile, experts from the UP OCTA research said that while they respect the policies the government is imposing, they fear the possible surge of COVID-19 cases once passenger capacity is increased in public transportations.

The group is currently monitoring the detected clustering of COVID-19 cases in MRT-3 which involves the new variant discovered in the United Kingdom.

What they suggest is that instead of increasing passenger capacity, it is better to increase the number of PUV units and retain the standard physical distance in between passengers.

“With the UK Variant it’s even more risky because the UK variant is more transmissible, so kumbaga we’re giving UK variant more opportunities to spread if we increased capacity in public transportation,” explained Dr. Guido David of the UP OCTA Research.

The group also recognizes the need to resume operations of provincial buses.

However, there must be a concrete guideline for operators and drivers and the standard health protocols should be strictly imposed at all times to curb transmission.

Experts said it would be best to place the entire country under MGCQ once the COVID-19 vaccination commences.

“It’s very important to vaccinate our front liners because they will help us in preventing surges. Even if we don’t see the effect immediately the vaccine roll-out will have a really big impact on our public health outlook and definitely moving to MGCQ will definitely possible,” David said.

The group sees a possible doubling of COVID-19 cases if the decision to relax quarantine measures is imposed in haste and without proper safeguards. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

NAIA runway upgrade to aid swift delivery of vaccines

Marje Pelayo   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The upgraded runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) can now be used for domestic flights following its yearlong rehabilitation.

The runway will also aid the swift delivery of vaccines in the country. 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) led the inauguration of the rehabilitated and upgraded runway 13/31 in NAIA on Tuesday (February 16).

The department was able to finish the repair and overlay of the runway which include the repair of deteriorated asphalt pavement areas and the entire runway to assure the aircraft’s safe landing and take off.

Apart from the upgraded runway, a newly-constructed taxiway was also inaugurated to manage air traffic and to address aircraft congestion on the ground.

According to MIAA General Manager Eddie Monreal, this will also benefit the anticipated volume arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country that is expected to happen this month.

GM Monreal cited that prior to the construction of the new taxiway it takes more than an hour before an aircraft could take off on runway 13/31, but now it could possibly take only about 30 minutes with the new taxiway.

“Dati kasi ang nga flights kasi galing Terminal 3 at Terminal 2 pag nagtake-off po sa domestic runway yung maiiksi natin umiikot sila hanggang dulo sa harap ng Terminal 4,” Monreal said.

“Ngayon hindi na sila iikot doon. Mayroon tayong parang tinatawag na bypass taxiway na para pagdating dun sa area na yun kakaliwa sila derecho take off na so hindi na maabala yung movement ng terminal 4,” he added.

The construction of the runway was conducted during the strict quarantine that is why flight operations were not hampered.

Meanwhile, airport officials also completed the rehabilitation of NAIA Terminal 2 to accomodate more passengers.

“So lumuwag po ang departure area, pre-departure area ng International area. Sa labas naman makikita ninyo meron tayong extra space na nakuha para magamit ng mga pasahero na aalis ng bansa. Lumaki yung check in counter. Nakadagdag tayo ng security screening kasi dati yun ang nagiging reklamo na medyo mahaba ang pila sa labas,” Monreal noted.

Although the rehabilitation was completed, MIAA said that bidding for the upgrade of terminals is yet to be decided. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Senate panel wants to repeal DOTr order delegating MVIS to private operators

Robie de Guzman   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines The Senate Committee on Public Services on Tuesday said it has recommended the repeal of the department order and all issuances related to the delegation of the motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) to private operators.

The panel, headed by Senator Grace Poe, said in its Committee Report No. 184 that the implementation of the MVIS is “flawed” and that the policy is “half-baked.”

“In the meantime, the repeal of DOTr DO (Department Order) 2018-19 and all related issuances is recommended,” the report read.

“While fees have been lowered for now and testing seems to have been made optional, the implementation of this flawed program must be stopped definitively pending the resolution of issues hounding it,” it added.

The committee cited in its report various concerns on the implementation of the MVIS.

These include the issues on the legality of the MVIS privatization, lack of consultation and transparency in accreditation, inadequate number of inspection centers in operation, glitches in the system, and overall incompatibility of private motor vehicle inspection systems with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) IT and landscape of motor vehicles in the country.

The panel said these issues remain unresolved without decisive action from the Department.

It further recommended that the Senate blue ribbon committee conduct a probe on the “highly anomalous transactions” surrounding the accreditation of Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs) and officials involved.

“The questionable issuances seem to have created a favorable environment for an oligopoly where only very few players can enter and succeed,” the report stated.

“The inexplicable dark moments during the evaluation process and lack of transparency in the eventual accreditation of winning service providers bear badges of fraud which should be further investigated by the appropriate committee,” it added.

The panel likewise pointed out in its report that the absence of clear definition of roadworthiness, coupled with identified flaws in the inspection standards, “almost guarantees that there will be errors in the test results.”

“[N]ot only that this might lead to corruption, some also believe that it intends to facilitate the phaseout of older vehicles without due process,” it added.

The report also emphasized that while “the policy of ensuring only roadworthy vehicles ply our roads is commendable, a half-baked policy is a bad policy.”

Poe earlier asked the DOTr and the LTO to submit the names of the companies and incorporators of the accredited PMVICs.

The committee report said that 12 out of 24 of them do not have enough capitalization to finance an expensive inspection center costing more than P50 million, and eight others registered as sole proprietorships contained no information as to their financial standing.

It also pointed out that with only 24 PMVICs currently operational out of 458 originally targeted by the LTO, the unclear noncompulsory status of the MVIS only leads to more confusion for motorists.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that the MVIS will no longer be mandatory following criticisms in its implementation.

The Transportation department also announced that PMVIC testing fees were lowered from P1,500 to P600 for private vehicles, and from P600 to P500 for motorcycles. The rate for public utility jeepneys, on the other hand, will remain at P300.

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