Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Tuesday blamed commuters for the transportation chaos on Monday as 30 percent of workers in the city went back to work after the government placed NCR under general community quarantine, allowing businesses to reopen to jumpstart the economy.
MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia said commuters “seemed to have lost focus” that COVID-19 was still out there and that it could spread further with the easing of public transportation restrictions.
“They were focused on traveling even though they [knew], just as the Department of Transportation said, our first priority is health and safety,” Garcia said in a radio interview.
He gave the crowding of hordes of commuters along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Monday as an example. No one is practicing physical distancing was observed as they waited for rides, he added.
Garcia also cited the crowding on a truck that police sent to ferry stranded commuters.
“When they saw the free rides, many commented on social media that commuters fought over these, they were on the road, there were no lines. They were each to his own and forgot that the priority is to stay safe from [the coronavirus],” Garcia said.
MMDA blaming commuters is insensitive
Ariel Inton, head of Lawyers for Commuters’ Safety and Protection, meanwhile slammed Garcia’s remarks as insensitive, “assuming that people are stupid or stubborn.”
“The only reason they are outside is because we reopened so many businesses, and they would not have gone [out to go to work] if they [had not been] asked,” Inton said.
Under the GCQ, only three metro trains, so-called augmentation buses, and Philippine National Railways were allowed to operate for public transportation.
Taxis and ride-hailing company cars such as Grab are also allowed as they can facilitate contactless and cashless payment.
The government, however, still banned jeepneys, UV Express vans, and city buses that ferry commuters to business districts in the city.
The public was advised to “bike to work” but has not given any clear plan yet on bike lanes. MMDA would even sue a bicycle group that placed temporary barriers on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.