MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday said it is working on forging partnerships with various digital payment providers for the implementation of cashless or contactless transactions in taxis and Transport Network Service Vehicles (TNVS) as part of the “new normal” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement, the DOTr said it has tapped payment platforms to help equip taxis and TNVS with scan-to-pay systems to limit direct physical contact between drivers and passengers, thus further curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Taxis and Transport Network Companies (TNC) are allowed to operate in areas placed under general community quarantine at reduced capacity and with strict health and safety protocols.
“Cashless and contactless payment scheme will now be part of the ‘new normal’ in the public transportation system,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.
The DOTr said one of the first to tie-up with the government for this purpose is GCash.
Under the partnership, GCash will help enable taxi drivers to accept digital payments through the Scan To Pay app where GCash users only need to scan the unique QR code of the taxi unit they are riding in paying for their metered fares.
GCash is also offering the GCash PowerPay+ solution to taxi operators where they can send out salaries, allowances, and commissions through to their employees, or members nationwide, the DOTr said.
“GCash strongly supports the government’s call for the use of mobile payments to lessen the risk of spreading COVID-19 through surfaces such as paper money,” GCash Head of Payments Jovit Bajar said.
Authorities are also in talks with other payment platforms PayMaya, Squidpay and Beep, among others, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said in the same statement.
“We had consultations with these providers over the weekend. We are encouraging these digital payment providers to partner with taxi operators and TNCs to lessen the chance of COVID-19 spread,” LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said.
“On the part of the TNCs such as Hirna, Grab and Owto, they are already accepting cashless transactions,” he added.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday called on the government to provide assistance to employees who are walking for kilometers from home to work and vice versa due to the still limited public transportation means amid the quarantine.
In a statement, Poe lamented reports on employees having to walk for hours to reach their workplaces and go home after the government eased the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last May 16.
While the senator acknowledged the workers’ commitment and perseverance, she said this “must not be part of the ‘new normal’” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
“There’s no doubt about the commitment and perseverance of our workers to return to work to provide income for their families and help shore up businesses sidelined by the pandemic,” she said.
“But the daily commute and walk must not exact a toll on our workers — exposing them to the dangers in the streets and unfavorable weather conditions,” she added.
Some workers reportedly struggled to reach their workplaces on Monday when businesses and offices resumed partial operations after Metro Manila was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
Poe said the government should do all it can to “alleviate the daily sufferings of our workers in getting to work” as public transportation services remain limited.
The senator also stressed that the “no work, no pay” employees will be most affected by this situation.
“Especially woeful are the situation of no-work, no-pay employees, who will not earn anything for the day if they fail to show up, or will be meted with deductions if they come late,” she said.
Under the MECQ guidelines issued by the government, select business establishments and offices have been allowed to resume half of their operations with limited workforce. Skeleton workforce and work from home arrangements may also be implemented.
The Department of Trade and Industry earlier urged employers who were allowed to resume operations to provide shuttle services to their employees.
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday urged mall security managers to require quarantine passes from its customers to improve the implementation of social distancing measures and avoid mass gathering in malls.
Police Lieutenant Col. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of Joint Task Force Coronavirus (JTF CV) Shield, said mandating quarantine passes from customers entering malls will follow government’s guidelines in allowing only one person per household to go out and get essential goods and services amid the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
The PNP met with security management in malls in the National Capital Region earlier in the day to discuss the implementation of health and safety protocols following reports of crowding and lack of physical distancing when the malls partially opened on May 16 in MECQ areas.
Eleazar said the mall security managers were also reminded to strictly limit the number of people allowed to enter the malls as stated in the government’s guidelines.
“So una yung maximum number of customers, dapat yun lang ang papasok lang sa loob… It could be computed base doon sa 1 customer per 2 square meters doon sa mga open areas,” he said.
Mall security managers have also been urged to designate drop off and pick up points to ensure that those entering malls are allowed to avail goods and services.
Metro Manila is under MECQ until May 31.
Under this setup, select businesses and offices will be allowed to resume 50% of operations and workforce, provided that minimum health standards will be implemented.
The guidelines also state that only essential and non-leisure shops will be permitted to open, including hardware stores, office supplies and clothing and accessories stores.
The number of customers allowed inside the stores will also be limited, and elevators will only be allowed to ferry 50% of its total capacity with occupants observing social distancing measures.
Free mall WiFi connection will be disabled and air condition temperature will be regulated to 26 centigrade to discourage loitering and lingering of peopleinside the mall.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has earlier warned that malls partially opened during the MECQ will be ordered closed if they fail to implement social distancing measures. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)
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