Duterte to review reduced social distancing rule in PUVs

Photo courtesy of Philippine News Agency

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte will review the reduced 0.75-meter physical distancing policy for passengers by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

“Inaasahan po natin na siguro po magkakaroon ng desisyon ang Presidente sa Lunes sa kanyang susunod na talumpati sa taumbayan (We expect that the President may announce his decision on Monday during his next public address),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday, September 17.

He also said that Duterte is still waiting for the task force’s report on the matter.

On Wednesday, September 16, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) reassessed the reduced social distancing rule after its implementation on Monday drew criticism from netizens and a number of sectors.

The new rule decreased the physical distancing inside public utility vehicles to 0.75 meters from the original one-meter recommendation.

The 0.75 meters will then be further reduced to 0.5 meter on September 28 and 0.3 meters on October 12.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, for his part, objected to the rule, saying he preferred the one-meter distance between passengers.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año echoed this sentiment, stressing that the economy can be opened but to sacrifice the one-meter distance is “non-negotiable.”

Until Duterte’s decision, the DOTr is suspending the new policy, which reverts the physical distance between passengers to one meter.

“Suspended po ang 0.75, balik po sa one meter habang wala pang decision ang ating Presidente sa bagay na ito (So, the 0.75 meter rule is suspended. We are back to the one-meter rule until the President decides on this matter),” Roque said.

According to him, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade suspended the new policy so as to not put pressure on Duterte.

“Kanina po nagsalita si Sec. Tugade, ang sabi nya (A while ago, Secretary Tugade said) because I don’t want to pressure the President into making his decision as if he is duty bound to make it in a period of time dahil kung i-implement yan, (if it will be implemented) it becomes urgent, the President must act on it right away,” Roque said.

“So, he said, to give the President all the time he needs to study the matter, balik muna tayo sa (return first to) one meter and until he says so, we will not implement the 0.75 (meter),” he added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]

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