Metro Manila community quarantine transportation restrictions: Here’s what you need to know

Robie de Guzman   •   March 14, 2020   •   5303

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday, March 14 released a set of guidelines for public transportation restrictions during the implementation of the community quarantine in Metro Manila effective Sunday, March 15 to April 14.

Under the guidelines, drivers and operators of public utility vehicles need to observe the following passenger limit:

  • UV Express van should not have more than six (6) passengers including driver; passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Public jeepneys should not board more than half of their regular capacity including driver, passengers should be one seat apart
  • Public buses should not have more than 25 passengers including driver and conductor, without any standing passenger. Passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Taxis/Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS), including accredited airport taxis should not have more than four passengers, including driver. One seat apart distance between passengers should be maintained.
  • Multiple bookings for a single trip provided by the TNVS is prohibited.

Provincial buses and inter-regional trips of jeepneys and UV Express traveling to and from Metro Manila shall be terminated on the entry points identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Buses and jeepneys will be waiting at these entry points for unloaded passengers from outside Metro Manila.

Drivers and conductors should also remind passengers to be ready to present valid company ID, which shows the address of workplace, and government-issued ID, which shows their place of residence.

Point-to-Point (P2P) Buses from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark International Airport and Sangley Airport shall be allowed to operate as scheduled, subject to protocols or procedures of the Department of Health (DOH) and the PNP.

The guidelines also stated that the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis is suspended during the quarantine.

Authorities also directed operators to inform their drivers and conductors to be observant of their passengers and bring them to the nearest hospital should they manifest any symptom of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including cough, fever and breathing difficulty. They are also required to report the incident to the DOH and the PNP for proper handling.

For train services, the guidelines state the following:

  • Trains and platform shall be loaded at reduced capacity of 25% to reduce the concentration of passengers per train. One-meter social distancing rule will also be maintained.
  • Women and senior citizens section of train cars will be further separated to designated a subsection for the elderly.
  • Philippine National Railways (PNR) operations from Alabang to Calamba in Laguna and vice versa is suspended during the quarantine period.
  • Trains, including its interiors, and station premises and surfaces frequently touched by the public will also have to be disinfected at least every loop or every time a train reaches its end-stations.

The guidelines also directed station personnel to regulate the entry of passengers from station platforms to trains.

For air travel, the guidelines state that:

  • All domestic flights to and from Metro Manila are suspended; exemptions include cargo flights air ambulance, and government supplies, government military flights, weather mitigation flights, and maintenance and utility flights.
  • General aviation flights are also suspended during the quarantine period, and will be diverted to Sangley Airport and Clark Airport.
  • Special airport-to-airport international flight arranged by the airlines, and coordinated with airport authorities are allowed.
  • Passengers of international/commercial flights may opt to terminate flight in Metro Manila, and arrange their own transport within the region
  • Local airlines will also be endeavored by Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to operate sweeper flights out of Manila and into other airports.

Issuance of access passes for visitors is suspended, and only passengers and essential personnel are allowed to enter and exit airport terminals.

The guidelines also stated that one-meter social distancing among passengers shall be observed.

For sea travel, the following measures shall be strictly implemented:

  • Passenger traffic in all ports going in and out of Metro Manila will be suspended during the quarantine period.
  • Ferry services within Metro Manila will continue to operate but with 50% capacity per vessel.
  • Ships plying routes within Metro Manila will be allowed to dock at ports outside the region upon application for the issuance of special permit with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
  • Cargo vessels are still allowed to move to and from Metro Manila. Cargo trucks/vans going in and out of Port of Manila shall present a Cargo Entry/Withdrawal Permit secured from the Philippine Ports Authority for validation at designated checkpoints.
  • Foreign and domestic ships are directed to unload their wastes as the next port of call outside Metro Manila as waste reception services at the ports shall be suspended.

Authorities said the guidelines for transportation restrictions shall take effect immediately and shall be applicable until the declaration of public health emergency of international concern has been lifted.

The DOTr, however, stressed that these measures are subject to daily review and revision as necessary.

Bicol International Airport construction progress rate now at 72.2% — DOTr

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The construction of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) project is moving at a fast pace, logging an overall progress rate of 72.2 percent, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Wednesday.

The actual construction of the airport started in December 2016.

It is comprised of Packages 2A and 2B. The DOTr said that as of January 13, 2021, the package 2A of the BIA Development project is now 88.2 percent complete.

Construction work in Package 2A is being handled by the Sunwest Construction and Development Corp. and covers the airport’s landside facilities, such as the Administration Building, Air Traffic Control Building, Crash Fire Rescue Building, and the Maintenance Building.

Package 2B of the airport project, meanwhile, is now 49.5 percent complete. Package 2B which is being handled by the E.M. Cuerpo construction company, covers the construction of the passenger terminal building (PTB), taxiway, runway extension, and other site development works.

Once completed, the Bicol International Airport, which features the iconic Mayon Volcano as its magnificent backdrop, is expected to serve a total of 2 million airline passengers every year.

The new international airport is also projected to boost air traffic in the region amid the existing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The BIA initially started construction in 2008. However, development works were uncompleted until 2012.

“When the Duterte administration came in 2016, the airport’s Package 2A and 2B projects were continued,” the DOTr said in a statement.

An important component of the Duterte Administration’s “Build, Build, Build” Program, the BIA also intends to be an instrumental in the transformation of Albay Province, and the rest of the Bicol Region, into a strong economic contender.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade stressed the importance of having continuous transport infrastructure developments such as the BIA, which will prove vital as the country starts recovering from the impact of COVID-19.

“It can’t be denied that the aviation sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. That’s why it is important that we finish the airport at the soonest possible time, as this will absolutely give the economy a boost,” Tugade said.

“Gusto ko matapos ‘yan within the year dahil gusto na natin itong agad na mapakinabangan ng ating mga kababayan. As we ready for take-off, kung baga, dapat all systems go,” he added.

DOTr boosts testing capacity in NAIA as OFWs return for the holidays

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 17, 2020

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has boosted its One-Stop-Shop as more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) return home for the holidays.

DOTr’s Office for the Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator Usec. Raul Del Rosario said this is to prevent the previous inconvenience caused by delayed COVID-19 test results.

Based on the OTS data, an estimated 5,000 OFWs arrive in the Philippines every day during the holidays.

Del Rosario also said additional Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel were deployed.

The One-Stop-Shop partnered with four COVID-testing laboratories to accommodate more OFWs.

Nagkaroon kami ng commitment among these laboratories, nag-commit sila na 24 hours ilalabas nila ang result at walang lalagpas ng 48 hours (We had a commitment among these laboratories. They committed to release the results in 24 hours and not exceeding 48 hours),” he said.

The One-Stop-Shop can process 10,000 swab tests per day, Del Rosario added.

Aside from the laboratories, there are also 21,000 slots available in hotels where OFWs can stay while waiting for their COVID-19 test results. -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Senate to begin probe on RFID cashless system on Dec. 17

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 14, 2020

The Senate will begin its investigation on the Toll Regulatory Board’s radio frequency identification (RFID) cashless system on Thursday (December 17), after its implementation caused heavy traffic along North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

Senator Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Public Services Committee, said they have also summoned the Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to provide an explanation on how to address the congestion amid the RFID implementation.

The committee will also look into the complaints about malfunctioning RFID readers.

“Nais nating maayos ang sitwasyon para sa ating mga kababayan, na hindi naman sila napeperwisyo at nahihirapang pumila doon at nakababad ng matagal. Pangalawa, nais nating malaman ano ba talaga ang naging dahilan kung bakit hindi maayos ang pagpapatakbo nito (We want to fix the situation for our fellowmen and spare them the inconvenience of queueing for hours. Secondly, we want to know the real reason for the lapses in its implementation),” she said in a statement. 

Poe said the cashless system should provide ease of travel for motorists along expressways as well as prevent them from getting infected with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker is also eyeing temporarily suspending the full implementation of the RFID cashless system. AAC

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