Malacañang said Wednesday that UV Express units have a better chance of resuming operations than the traditional jeepneys under the community quarantine.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque that unlike in a traditional jeep, no passengers face each other aboard a UV Express vehicle.
“I think the UV Express stands a better chance than jeepneys. Because the sitting arrangement is you’re all facing the same direction, and there are no passengers facing each other,” Roque said in an interview over ANC.
The spokesperson earlier said traditional jeepneys may be allowed back on the roads if the shortage in other modes of transportation continues.
Modern jeepneys already resumed operations on June 22, which is the start of the second phase of the Department of Transportation’s public transport jumpstart.
Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said on Tuesday wearing a face mask and observing social distancing while riding an open-air public utility vehicle such as jeepneys would provide enough protection against the coronavirus.
The Usec made the response the day after the IBON foundation urged the government to lift the indefinite ban on public utility jeepneys (PUJs), saying international studies showed riding open-air vehicles would not pose a risk of getting the respiratory disease.
Vergeire, however, did not openly recommend the return of the traditional open-air jeepneys as part of the allowed public transport since they are yet to be reconfigured to meet the minimum health protocols.
She said the DOTr (Department of Transportation) should release a budget for drivers to reconfigure their jeepneys in accordance with the health department’s standards.
Roque also answered some criticisms that the government policies on transportation only favor private vehicles.
“The priority of the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] is still upholding public health,” Roque said.
“That is why as far as transportation is concerned, it’s not just cars that have been given priority. We have allowed the PNR, we have allowed the MRT, we have allowed the buses, the Grab, taxis. So it’s not true that the favored mode of transportation is the private,” he added.