Public safety is the number one concern in Metro Manila
this week. Even as the temperature starts to get warm, the public prepares for threats bigger than the summer heat
. Health concerns regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in the country prompted the government to institute an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon starting March 17, 2020.
In addition, the Marikina City Government suspended the Palarong Pambansa (National Games), and President Rodrigo Duterte signed the proclamation of state of public health emergency. Meanwhile, road safety will be prioritized by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) through their crackdown of public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers with multiple violations.
Traffic Update: MMDA’s driver apprehension program could lessen PUVs in Metro Manila
Commuters might see a slight shortage in PUVs in Metro Manila after the MMDA started their crackdown of PUV drivers with multiple violations. Since November 2019 until this March, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has apprehended around 2,000 drivers in Metro Manila. The numbers might increase as the MMDA will enforce a stricter monitoring of violations on the road.
The crackdown is reported to provide safer commutes and to prevent road accidents. Violators would be given a 90-day suspension . In light of the fewer PUVs, MMDA Traffic Chief Bong Medrija advised commuters to adjust their travel time. Another option given by Medrija is to find alternate means of transportation.
Major tollways and expressways will remain open
SMC Tollways have announced that motorists can still use the Skyway, SLEX, STAR tollways, and NAIAX amidst the Luzon lockdown. Meanwhile, the North Luzon Expressway imposes measures to comply with the enhanced community quarantine. Motorists who are allowed to enter NLEX must be cleared at various checkpoints:
• Balintawak Camachile NB*/SB*
• Mindanao EB* Exit
• Valenzuela SB Exit and NB entry
• Smart Connect Interchange SB exit ramp
• Smart Connect Interchange NB entry ramps
• Bocaue SB
• Mexico entry and exit
• Angeles Exit
• Dolores Toll Plaza
• Concepcion Tall Plaza (after exit)
• Pulilan NB entry
• San Simon NB entry
• San Fernando SB rotunda EB
• San Miguel Toll Plaza (before entry)
• Subic Freeport Expressway
• Tipo Toll Plaza
Closed entry and exit points are:
• Karuhatan NB Exit
• Lawang Bato NB entry
• Ciudad de Victoria NB Exit, SB Entry, SB Exit
• Tambubong NB Entry, NB Exit, SB entry
• Mabiga NB/SB
* NB - Northbound
* SB - Southbound
* EB - Eastbound
Luzon on an enhanced community quarantine
In President Duterte's public address last March 16, 2020, he announced an enhanced community quarantine in Metro Luzon effective on March 17, 2020. The enhanced quarantine is implemented to keep people at home and to lessen the transmission of Covid-19.
Under this quarantine, "land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel in Luzon shall be suspended" . Public means of transportation such as jeepneys, buses, taxis, ride-hailing services, MRT and LRT trains, UV Express, motorcycle taxis, and PNR wil alsol cease operations. Only allowed on the road are uniformed personnel tasked to deliver medical supplies, laboratory specimens, and other humanitarian aid. Owners of private vehicles can go out to buy basic necessities but only one person is allowed per household to leave the house. In terms of air travel, Filipinos are not allowed to leave the country but inbound flights for returning Filipinos are allowed.
Along with the suspension of transportation, a work-from-home arrangement is established for workers with the exemption of those working as frontliners. Frontliners include medical professionals, policemen, military personnel, and the media. Food deliveries are allowed to operate but dine-in transactions are not allowed. As of writing, Grab and Food Panda suspended their food delivery services.
Arroceros Forest Park is declared as permanent forest park
The “last lung” of Manila is now a permanent forest park. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno declared Arroceros Park along Antonio Villegas Street in Ermita as a permanent forest park last February 27. The 2.2-hectare place is Manila’s last forested area and is home to 61 different tree types, 8,000 plant varieties, and 10 bird species.
Included in the declaration is the proper maintenance of the park. Cutting trees and improper waste disposal within the park will be punishable with a fine of PhP2,500 for the first offense and PhP3,500 for the second offense. For the third offense, the apprehended individual will have to pay a fine of PhP5,000 and will face imprisonment not exceeding one year, depending on the court’s decision .
Palarong Pambansa suspended due to COVID-19 threat
With the case of COVID-19 increasing in the country, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro suspended the Palarong Pambansa which was supposed to be held on May 1 to 9. According to Teodoro, the games were suspended to prioritize the health of the athletes and their families. The Marikina City Government also conducted a massive city-wide disinfection after the confirmation of its first COVID-19 case .
President Duterte declares state of public emergency
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the proclamation of public health emergency last March 9 due to the spread of COVID-19. The proclamation assigns all government agencies and local government units to work together to provide assistance to the public. Improving quarantine measures, mobilization of resources, and establishing easier processes among hospital personnel are required in all medical facilities.
Health secretary Francisco Duque III also assured the public that 98% of COVID-19 patients fully recover. Duque further stated that the transmission of the virus should not be a serious cause of concern for people with no travel history to the heavily affected areas, exposure to patients, and existing symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 resemble the flu. Signs to look for are fever, body aches, coughing, fatigue; some cases may also include vomiting and diarrhea . As of March 11, the Department of Health has confirmed 33 cases in the Philippines.
Airline carriers cancel flights
Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and CebGo, and AirAsia cancelled all of their domestic flights in compliance with the enhanced community quarantine.
Philippine Airlines has cancelled all domestic flights until April 12, while international flights will continue to operate until midnight of March 20 . Cebu Pacific and CebGo has cancelled all its flights from March 19 until April 14 . Meanwhile, AirAsia cancelled all its domestic flights to and from NAIA and to and from Clark until April 14; international flights in both airports will also be canceled starting March 20 until April 14 .
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