The Department of Transportation (DOTr) did not consult the mayors of cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) before it issued guidelines on the reduction of physical distancing in public transport, the chairman of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) said Wednesday.
Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez said the mayors, who lead a region with the most number of COVID-19 cases in the country, were surprised when the DOTr released the guidelines without any "proper consultation" with them.
"Alam po niyo sa aming discussion, nagtaka pa kami kasi hindi po nagkaroon ng proper consultation 'yan with the 17 mayors at nagulat kami na biglang nilabas 'yung guidelines na 'yun na wala man lamang consultation dito sa ground, dito sa National Capital Region," he said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum.
The DOTr earlier said that the original one-meter distance would be reduced to .75 meters effective last Monday, September 14. This could be further reduced to 0.5 meters after two weeks, and to 0.3 meters after another two weeks.
Medical professionals have objected to this plan. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the DOTr did not consult health experts.
Olivarez said the MMC still believes that physical distancing has to be maintained. Differences in distancing rules by local and transport authorities, he said, would lead to inconsistent messaging for the public.
He said health experts may need to study if a distance of .75 meters is enough.
"Pero definitely yung 0.5 saka 'yung 0.3 palagay ko po kami pong 17 mayors, mag-oobject po kami doon," he said.
"We have to open the economy but we should not compromise the health protocol at pangalagaan 'yung kalusugan ng taumbayan," the mayor said.
Health authorities have recorded 269,407 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines as of September 15. A total of 57,392 are active cases, 207,352 are recoveries, and 4,663 are deaths. —KG, GMA News