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Gatchalian urges gov't to assess plans to allow more public vehicles amid rise in COVID-19 cases

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday said the scheduled resumption of more public transportation modes in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas next week should be assessed and delayed if needed given the rising number of COVID-19 infections.

"'Yung public transportation na balak buksan on June 22, dapat pag-aralan mabuti and should be deferred if necessary because pag binuksan ang public transportation, sigurado akong pipila ang tao, sigurado akong magkakaroon ng hawahan," Gatchalian told reporters in a virtual interview.

The senator expressed apprehensions on reactivating the operation of more public transportation vehicles and allowing regional economic activities.

"I'm afraid the timing is not right," he said.

"Sa ngayon kahit walang public transportation, for example in Valenzuela, ang aming local economy is working—'yung mga salon namin, barbero, nag-umpisa lahat nagpa-practice ng social distancing," he added.

The senator believes the government is not acting fast enough in its response to the pandemic. He reiterated that testing capacity has yet to be increased significantly.

"I don't think we're doing it wrong, we're just not doing it fast enough. Itong laban we have to be fast eh. 'Yung ginagawa naman nila (other countries), ginagawa rin natin... except mas mabilis sila," he said.

Metro Manila is currently among the areas under the GCQ. Out of the over 27,000 COVID-19 cases in the country, more than 14,000 are recorded in this region.

The Department of Transportation earlier said that public transportation would resume in two phases under GCQ.

Under Phase 1, which will run from June 1 to 21, only trains, augmentation buses, taxis, transport network vehicle services, shuttle services, point-to-point buses, and bicycles will be allowed to operate on a limited capacity. The operation of tricycles under this phase is subject to the approval of local government units.

Under Phase 2 from June 22 to 30, public utility buses, modern public utility vehicles or jeepneys, and UV Express will be allowed to operate on a limited capacity.

The Palace said old jeepneys that are still roadworthy may be allowed to operate too. —LDF, GMA News