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DOTr to comply with Duterte's directive for one-meter physical distancing in public transpo

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday said it will comply with the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to have one-meter physical distancing in all public transportation.

"The President has spoken. We shall aggressively comply and strictly enforce the 1-meter physical distancing in all public transport as envisioned and mandated," the department said in a statement.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Saturday Duterte's decision to retain the one-meter physical distancing in public transportation, a week after the DOTr implemented the reduction in physical distancing from one meter to 0.75 meter.

Duterte made the decision on Friday night, the Palace spokesperson said.

The one-meter physical distancing in public transportation implemented earlier was reduced to 0.75 meter last week.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade announced then that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) had approved the proposal pushed by the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) and the DOTr to increase ridership in public transportation by “optimizing” or reducing the physical distance between commuters.

It could be further reduced to 0.5 meters after two weeks, and to 0.3 meters after another two weeks, he added.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año however said the DOTr released the operational guidelines on reduced physical distancing in public transport without consulting health experts.

Metro Manila mayors also said they were not consulted.

However, the implementation of reduced physical distancing in public transport amid the COVID-19 pandemic is based on studies of experts in railways and medical fields, according to DOTr Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon.

“Pinagbasehan po namin dito 'yung pag-aaral ng ibang eksperto, katulad po sa train 'yung International Union of Railways, na nakikita na hindi naman ganun kailangan talagang kalaki ang distansya,” Tuazon said.

Tugade also defended the decision to reduce social distancing in public transport, saying it was a product of research and simulation by the Philippine National Railways.

He also said other countries have reduced the physical distance "from one meter and downwards."

Medical experts and a research team in the University of the Philippines however opposed the reduced physical distancing, saying it may lead to more cases of COVID-19. —KG, GMA News