Malacanang said Thursday that the reduced one-meter physical distancing rule in public transportation has been suspended pending the decision of President Duterte on the matter.
Thus, the physical distancing measure in public transportation will remain at one meter per passenger, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, after Duterte ordered the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to take another look at its decision to ease the distancing measure to .75 meter following the appeal of medical frontliners.
Roque said that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade announced in an IATF meeting the suspension of the implementation of the new protocol as the body is yet to submit its recommendation to the President.
“Balik one meter distancing muna po tayo sa pampulbikong transportasyon habang wala pang desisyon ang Presidente kung pupwede itong maibaba sa .75 (meter) (We will revert to the one-meter physical distancing in public transportation because President Duterte is yet to make a decision if we can bring it down to .75 meter),” he said.
With this development, Roque said Duterte will not be able to make an announcement Thursday, contrary to what he said Wednesday.
“Baka hindi po mangyari ‘yan dahil ang report po na pag-aaralan ni Presidente ay isusumite pa lamang ngayong araw po (This may not happen today because the report that the President should study will only be submitted within the day),” he said.
“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),” he added.
The IATF had earlier approved to reduce the physical distancing measure inside public transportation from one meter to .75 meters.
In an interview with CNN Philippines Wednesday, Roque said there was really no objection from its members at that time.
“When the IATF approved it, there was no objection, no controversy. The controversy came up again when medical groups made an issue out of it,” he said.
The Palace official, however, insisted that the decision and recent recommendation of the IATF to Duterte was based on doctors’ advice. He likewise said it was important to open up transportation so people can go to work.
Over the weekend, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nogales said the move to ease the physical distancing measures was a calibrated move and a part of the government’s second phase of the National Action Plan to address COVID-19.
Under the second phase, the government will now balance protecting the health of the public and revitalizing the economy which took a hit due to the six-month lockdown.
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Author: Argyll Cyrus Geducos