MANILA, Philippines — Rommel Lambino, a taxi driver, queued at one of the taxi bays in Quezon City before sunrise despite facing another day of possibly having only a handful of passengers due to the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on his family and income. Before the outbreak, he used to earn P1,000 a day, but due to the quarantine restrictions, his daily income nowadays is not even enough to pay for gas.
Rommel said he only had four passengers, after operating from 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
“Laki po ng epekto sa amin ng ECQ, unang una po sa curfew. Pagdating po ng alas-singko sarado na po ang mga mall, wala na po kaming makuhang pasahero (ECQ has affected us greatly. Firstly, the curfew. Malls are already closed at 5:00 p.m. — we no longer have passengers),” he said.
Jeepney drivers are also facing the same challenges. Rey Escanilla, one of the jeepney drivers plying the Tandang Sora-Quezon City Hall route, said they are only operating three trips a day from the previous five trips. Due to this, he only takes home P100 to his family per day.
“Nung bago ipatupad ang ECQ, nakaka-apat hanggang limang byahe pa kami, so medyo sapat pa iyon panggastos namin. Kumikita kami ng P300 to P500. Ngayon nung nag-ECQ, isa hanggang dalawang byahe nalang ang nagagawa namin. Minsan nga nagagamit ko pa ang boundary ng operator ko, mabait naman, pinapautang naman sakin (Before ECQ, we had four to five trips and it was enough for my family. I used to earn P300 to P500. Now, due to the ECQ, we can only make one or two trips. Sometimes, I use the boundary money for my operator. He is kind enough to let us take a loan),” he said.
Along Mindanao Avenue, a man wears a sign around his neck asking for alms from motorists under the scorching sun. Reynaldo Villamor worked in town fairs, but due to the quarantine restrictions, he lost his job. He is from Caloocan but opted to go to Quezon City to ask for money.
“Syempre kapag doon ka namalimos nakakahiya marami makakakilala sayo roon kaya dumadayo nalang ako. Nahihiya doon sa amin sa Caloocan marami kakilala. Kung dito sa malayo hindi naman nakakahiya kasi para makaraos para makabayad sa mga bayarin (Of course it’s embarrassing to beg for alms in Caloocan where I’m from because people I know might see me. If it’s far enough, it’s less embarrassing and I could earn a little to tide us over and pay the bills),” he said.
The national government has prepared cash aid for those heavily affected by the pandemic and ECQ. However, Bayan Muna Partylist said it will not be enough.
“The government’s P1,000 cash aid is not enough to buy food and other essential items during the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ),” the group said in a statement. AAC (with reports from JP Nuñez)