Ako Bicol Party List Rep. Elizaldy S. Co expressed gratitude to Malacanang and the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EIS) for considering pleas to resume public transport operations.
“I fully appreciate the possible resumption of provincial bus operations by June 22, 2020 as disclosed by Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday,” Co said.
Early this week, the Bicolano lawmaker appealed to Malacanang and the IATF to release clear and unified guidelines to allow resumption of public transportation especially provincial buses. The goal is to help thousands of stranded Filipinos and overseas workers to go home to their respective provinces.
According to Sec. Roque, the public transpotation issue is scheduled for discusaion by the IATF and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
“I cannot over emphasize the importance of provincial buses to the riding public so they can reunite with their loved ones,” Co said.
He stressed, however, that seeking permission from each Local Government Units (LGU) should be minimized as this will be self-defeating.
“There are health and safety protocols in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections. Tests can be conducted and quarantine protocols can be strictly imposed for each passenger so as to avoid spreading the virus,” he said.
The solon explained that many Filipino passengers and OFWs he spoke to are willing to undergo another quarantine upon arrival in their provinces just to be able to reunite with their families.
They said prolonged stay in Metro Manila exposes them to higher risks of infection so they prefer to go home.
“I don’t mean to belittle or ignore the right of LGUs to be consulted but i believe if Metro Manila and cities and municipalities that bus lines will traverse to reach the provinces are already under modified general community quarantine, i don’t think there’s no need for individual consultations. Otherwise the efforts of Malacañang and concerned national offices to ease restrictions will be for naught” he stressed.
In an earlier statement, Co implored the IATF, the departments of health, transportation and interior and local government and various local government units to come up with a set of unified guidelines to facilitate resumption of provincial bus operations.
Without public transportation, Co said thousands of Filipinos and overseas workers can’t return home and join their families in the provinces. Aside from congestion and higher risk of infection, inability to return home is a primary cause of depression and anxiety especially for OFWs, he said.
Due to lack of public transportation, the solon lamented that some Filipino workers die without ever seeing their loved ones. “It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m sure we can all agree on a set of clear, systematic and non-redundant guidelines. We owe it to our kababayans,” he said.