Administration Senator Christopher Go is asking the government to reconsider its move to ease physical distancing measures in public transportation.
During a hearing of the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday, Go, who chairs the panel, raised the recent decision of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to reduce the distance between commuters in public transport vehicles starting this week.
“I am appealing to concerned agencies to thoroughly study their proposal to reduce social distancing in public transport,” Go said in his opening statement.
Go said the executive department should not rush into easing health and safety protocols just to restart the economy. Lives should be prioritized more, he said.
“Huwag nating madaliin dahil sa kilos natin, sa bawat kilos natin, nakataya ang buhay ng bawat mamamayan (We should not rush because for every action, lives of Filipinos are at stake). Lahat naman tayo gustong makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay (We all want to go back to our normal lives). But always remember that a life lost is a life lost forever,” he said.
He added that the move might also worsen the COVID-19 situation and waste all the efforts and funds that the government has poured in previous months to address it.
“Kung mas kakalat naman ang sakit sa public transport, kawawa ang maliliit na Filipino, ‘yong mga mahihirap at pinakanangangailangan na lumabas ng bahay para magtrabaho at mabuhay (If the disease will spread again through public transport, poor Filipinos who need to go out to work and earn will be at a disadvantage). Back to scratch na naman tayo, dahil maapektuhan yong pinaka-vulnerable (We will have to go back to scratch, because the most vulnerable will again be the most affected),” he said.
“The government must continue to balance efforts in opening the economy while still implementing necessary health protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19. Every decision must be backed by scientific studies and based on recommendations of subject matter experts,” Go appealed.
On Monday night, President Duterte said he has yet to study the DOTr’s plan to lower the one-meter distance between commuters to .75 meters. He agreed that the move will pose health risks.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also said he was not consulted when the proposal was approved. Duque co-chairs the interagency task force handling the government’s COVID-19 response.
Members of the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) are scheduled to meet today on the matter.