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Eleazar warns PUV drivers amid Zambales incident

September 6, 2021 Alfred P. Dalizon 1193 views

EleazarPHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday warned drivers of public utility vehicles anew to strictly comply with IATF health protocols or be apprehended and fined in the aftermath of an operation in Zambales where local policemen arrested four violators and impounded their vehicles for allegedly taking advantage of their Driver-Authorized Person Outside Residence status.

The four public transport drivers found to be daily ferrying Unauthorized Persons Outside Residence (UPORs) from Zambales to the NCR Plus Bubble and causing public alarm since they may help spread the COVID-19 virus were arrested by local police in Subic on Tuesday last week, Zambales Police Provincial Office director, Colonel Romano V. Cardiño told the Journal Group.

The Zambales police operations came amid a memorandum issued by the PNP Directorate for Operations to the director of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) , National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) headed by Major Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr.; Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) in Central Luzon headed by Brigadier Gen. Valeriano T. de Leon and the PRO4-A in Calabarzon region under Brig. Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz to go after similar violations taking place in PUV terminals and in highways and other major thoroughfares.

PNP Director for Operations, Major Gen. Alfred S. Corpus ordered concerned police personnel to issue Temporary Operators Permit (TOPs), Official Violator’s Receipt (OVR) and Traffic Citation Tickets to the violators.

“This pertains to reports received by the Directorate (for Operations), which disclosed unabated incidents of overloading, violations of minimum public health standards, and violations of allowed passenger capacity as prescribed by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and DoTr’s guidelines committed by public utility buses and jeepneys, particularly in NCR Plus areas,” the memorandum read.

“We will be very strict in the implementation of this as part of our efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Kaya pinapaalalahanan natin ang mga operator at driver ng mga pampublikong sasakyan na umayos kayo kung ayaw ninyong mahuli,” Gen. Eleazar said.

The PNP chief said those manning and supervising Quarantine Control Points in Metro Manila and the four adjacent provinces have been provided with the TOPs, OVRs and TCTs since part of their job is to check if the passing PUVs are complying with the rules on allowed passenger capacity and minimum public health standards.

He added that these tickets will be issued if policemen would accost any passenger who does not properly wear face masks and if the PUVs are carrying passengers more than the maximum allowed passengers.

Members of the PNP-HPG under Brig. Gen. Alexander C. Tagum since last month have been conducting random checks in the NCR Plus Bubble to accost IATF violators.

Part of the order, according to Eleazar, is for those manning the border control points or QCPs to inspect all the passing buses and jeepneys and ensure that the no travel policy on non-APORs is implemented.

“We are appealing to the drivers to ensure that their passengers are complying with these rules dahil kayo ang magdudusa kapag nahuli kayo. Kayo ang boss ng mga bus at jeepney na minamaneho ninyo kaya obligasyon ninyo na tiyakin na sumusunod sa mga patakaran ang inyong mga pasahero,” he said.

Cardiño said they conducted the operations last week following complaints from netizens that the accused are grossly violating quarantine rules and are taking advantage of their status as Drivers-APORs to breach Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases protocols.

“We have arrested the suspects who are being able to enter Zambales and NCR Plus and vice-versa since they belong to the Driver-APORs category but are taking advantage of their status to sneak in even unauthorized persons without practicing social distancing. Their claim is they can have ‘daily biyahe since they are APOR drivers,” the official said.

According to Cardiño, the drivers were found to be ‘smuggling’ even unauthorized passengers from the province to the National Capital region and the provinces of Olongapo, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Cavite, Pangasinan and Manila and back and forth which is illegal and exposes the public to the COVID-19 virus.

It turned out that the suspects have been using Facebook to represent themselves as drivers/owners or car or vans-for-rent which are allowed to ply their trade even during the Enhanced Community Quarantine or Modified ECQ in Zambales and Metro Manila Plus via ZCTEX and Skyway.

Their Zambales to Manila trip schedule is from 1-3 a.m. while their Manila to Zambales trip is from 5-7 a.m. Once they are in Metro Manila, they usually pick-up their passengers at BSA Twin Towers in Ortigas Center behind SM Megamall A before dropping them off in Palanginan, Iba, Zambales.

Cardiño said a number of concerned citizens relayed the activities of the suspects to Zambales Governor Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr. who in turn asked the Zambales PPO to immediately act on the ‘illegal car pooling’ operations since they and their passengers could be possible carriers of COVID-19 and its more deadly variants in the province.

The four who were apprehended along the national highway in Barangay Sto. Tomas were identified as Reyam Valdez,37, driver of a gray Toyota Hi-Ace commuter van with plate no. CBL 5773; John Nicol de la Torre,24, the driver of a white Mitsubishi Xpander with plate no .CAT 3714; Andrew Edañol,41, the driver of a black Toyota Vios with plate no. NDP 5713; and Michael Evangelista,47, the driver of a silver metallic Toyota Hi-Ace commuter van with plate no. NFZ 5667.

Valdez, a resident of Simminublan in San Narciso municipality was found to be transporting eight persons working in different parts of Metro Manila while de la Torre had three passengers.

Edañol was found ferrying three passengers while Evangelista was apprehended while transporting six persons.

Cardiño said that the four failed to present documents regarding their rent-a-car business or any permit to operate and convey passengers from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

He added that the four motor vehicles were impounded at the LTFRB Region 3 office while appropriate charges were filed against the drivers and their operators.