Binay challenges Tugade, transport officials to commute to work

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 2) —Senator Nancy Binay wants Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and other officials of the agency to commute to work to get a feel of their guidelines which have burdened most commuters on the road due to the lack of public transport under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

"Tingnan natin kung papano siya (Secretary Tugade) makakapasok sa Clark na hindi gamit ang kanyang sasakyan dahil sa kulang at halos walang public transportation na pwedeng gamitin ngayon," Binay told CNN Philippines' Balitaan on Tuesday.

[Translation: Let's see how he will get to Clark without using his private car since there is very little to no public transportation available now.]

Binay noted that no clear plan was in place especially for returning employees who are only relying on public transportation to get to their workplaces.

"Nakita natin kahapon anong nangyari, yung mga kababayan natin nagsisiksikan sa mga prinovide nila na transportation. Mga flatbed na truck yung pinalabas kahapon, nakita natin walang social distancing na nangyari," said Binay, referring to photos that circulated on social media showing stranded workers cramped up in some military and police trucks early Monday.

[Translation: We saw what happened yesterday, people were cramped up in the transportation that they provided. They released flatbed trucks, but no social distancing was imposed.]

"Dapat maramdaman nila (transportation officials) ang hirap na pinagdadaanan ng mga commuter (They should feel the struggle of all commuters). They won't be able to plan well if they don't feel and understand the people's daily struggle," the senator added.

Meanwhile, Tugade denied criticisms that the government lacked foresight and proper planning.

"Hindi ho totoong walang plano," he said in a separate briefing. "Sa aming paglunsad ng mga planong ito, natural na may mga taong nai-inconvenienced."

[Translation: It's not true that we don't have a plan. When we implemented this, it is really likely to happen that some will be inconvenienced.]

He also noted that reports on workers who were cramped up in government vehicles was "a failure of implementation" that must be corrected.

Binay also urged the DOTr to listen to the pleas of jeepney operators and drivers who want to ply their routes once again, noting that some of them managed to come up with innovations by putting up makeshift barriers to comply with safety protocols.

"Jeepney drivers can innovate," she said. "Some have put up plastic covers, curtains. Payagan na natin silang makabyahe ulit. Kailangan din nilang kumita (Let's allow them to ply their routes again. They need to earn something)."

Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV shared the same sentiment, saying that while jeepneys are "unsightly, antiquated, and accident-prone vehicles," there is no other alternative available for most commuters.

Senator Franklin Drilon said the government must come up with ways to revive the economy without compromising the health of the commuting public.

On Monday, commuters were seen enduring long lines and extended waiting time just to be able to get a ride to their workplaces.

This comes amid the threat of COVID-19 as the government placed Metro Manila under the GCQ and eased movement without reaching its targeted testing capacity.

The Philippines has more than 18,600 COVID-19 cases, with over 3,900 recoveries and 960 deaths to date.