News Release

Palace announces suspension of reduced distancing in public transpo pending PRRD approval

The reduction of physical distancing in public transportation is suspended, awaiting the approval of the President.

“Kakaanunsyo lang po ni Secretary [Arthur] Tugade sa nagaganap na IATF meeting na balik one meter distancing muna po tayo sa pampublikong transportasyon habang wala pa pong desisyon ang Presidente kung ito nga po ay pupwedeng maibaba sa 0.75,” Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr announced at the beginning of his regular press briefing in Malacañan on September 17, 2020.

The Palace official said that the President is yet to study the proposal and will make his decision after the submission of the report. In the meantime, the Department of Transportation has suspended the implementation of the reduced physical distancing in response to recommendations of medical groups, the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In a news report, both chiefs of the DOH and DILG argued against the reduction in physical distancing measures in public transportation following the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) of maintaining at least one-meter distance.

While the WHO makes certain norms and standards, former Ateneo Dean Dr. Manuel Dayrit stressed that countries have to deal with the situation according to their own contexts.

Dr. Dayrit presented what he calls the “Seven Commandments of Public Transportation,” to help reduce the risk of infection in public transport.

These “seven commandments” that Dr. Dayrit advised the public to follow when riding public transportation are the following: wearing of proper face mask, wearing of face shields, no talking and no eating, adequate ventilation, frequent and proper disinfection, no symptomatic passengers, and appropriate physical distancing.

Dr. Dayrit likewise cited the study published in the medical journal Lancet, showing that distancing, masks, and face shield are similarly effective when used independently.

On another matter, Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra, in the same press briefing, answered questions regarding the findings of Task Force PhilHealth. Secretary Guevarra said that corruption in PhilHealth could have evolved as a result of a culture of tolerance of wrong practices over the years, and to the non-filing of complaints and legal actions against wrongdoers.

The DOJ Secretary added that they are hoping to file complaints in the next 30 days. ### OPS-PCOO