HOUSE committee on transportation chairman and Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento on Saturday asked Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to deploy public transportation marshals who would be tasked to enforce health and safety protocols on buses and jeepneys.
Sarmiento observed that numerous buses and jeepney go beyond the maximum capacity set by the Inter-Agency Tadk Force (IATF).
He has also not seen temperature checks being conducted before boarding public utility vehicles. They also do not have any contact tracing form or QR Code reader/recorders which is required under the IATF guidelines for public transportation.
“Marami na ang nagsasabi sa akin na halos dikit-dikit na sila sa bus at jeepney. I am appealing to drivers and operators to consistently follow the minimum health protocols. Commuters who are asymptomatic COVID carriers are potential super-spreaders and until we are able to reach our vaccination goals, we cannot let our guard down,” Sarmiento said.
Contact tracing on public transports has also become close to impossible because there is no reliable contact tracing system for land transportation.
“I understand the situation of our drivers and commuters. It is really time-consuming and very cumbersome for us to comply with the guidelines set by the IATF. But these protocols were set to stop the spread of this deadly virus. These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures,” Sarmiento said.
“By not complying with our health and safety protocols, we will only keep running in circles. Paulit-ulit lang tayo na GCQ tapos ECQ ulit. We must end this cycle so that we can be on our way to normalcy. We need consistency as we open our economy once again,” Sarmiento said.
Apart from ensuring the safety of commuters, Sarmiento said that deploying public transport marshals would also provide employment to a lot of people who have lost their livelihood because of the pandemic.
He said that those who lost their jobs especially in the transportation sector due to the pandemic can be tapped by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to take the role as marshals upon completion of a crash course on how they could properly check body temperatures and use QR Code Readers.
To make it easier for operators, drivers and commuters, Sarmiento said the DOTr can also issue an order requiring passengers to download contact tracing mobile phone apps like Stay Safe which can generate QR Codes.
These QR Codes can be scanned by the public transport marshals before passengers are allowed to board a bus or a jeepney.