Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong (Photo from Benjie Magalong – Public Servant / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Magalong said that, based on the assessments done by the city government, together with health experts, most of the provinces in the Cordillera are now considered clear as its provinces, particularly Apayao, Mountain Province and Kalinga, have been not recorded any coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case.
He added that this was the main reason why they were already considering the gradual opening of out-bound public transportation from this city to these parts of the region.
He pointed out that appropriate coordination will be done with the concerned provincial officials, and operators of the public transportation servicing the routes from the city to the provinces on how to manage their operations any time after the general community quarantine (GCQ).
He said no decision was reached on the date of the possible resumption of public transportation to the different parts of Northern and Central Luzon and the National Capital Region (NCR) as the city government was still ascertaining the condition of the different places outside the Cordillera whether or not it will be feasible to start gradually opening public transportation to these destinations.
He pointed out that prior to any resumption of outbound public transportation from the city, the vehicles to be used will be subjected to the required inspection by the LTFRB for their compliance to the new normal situation.
Part of the guidelines prescribed by the LTFRB for the operation of mass public transportation was for restriction on 50 -percent occupancy of the vehicles, the provision of sanitizers and alcohol, the mandatory wearing of face masks, the placing of the plastic division between the driver and the passengers, among others.
Mass public transportation is one of the sectors expected to resume operation during the GCQ, subject to strict adherence to the policy on physical distancing among the passengers.
Magalong also explained that even mass public transportation in the city will gradually start operations, but still on a very limited basis pursuant to the established transition plan of the city government to prevent a possible second wave of the virus infection.
From the existing number of public utility vehicles that have been issued franchises, he revealed that less than 15 percent will be allowed to operate during the first two weeks of the GCQ.
By Zaldy Comanda
This article was first published in Manila Bulletin