MMDA exempts frontliners from 'modified coding scheme,' explains rules

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — Medical frontliners will be exempted from the newly-crafted "modified coding scheme," should Metro Manila shift to general community quarantine (GCQ) on June 1, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) clarified on Wednesday.

MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia reverted his initial statement. He said healthcare workers will have the privilege to use their coded-vehicles without being apprehended when the modified number coding scheme is implemented in the National Capital Region.

"Naiintindihan natin ang sakripisyo ng medical workers so exempted po sila sa coding," he told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: We understand their sacrifices, so they are exempt from coding.]

Garcia encouraged them to maximize carpooling, as long as it is meets the Health Department's standards.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto criticized government officials who are issuing confusing traffic pronouncements that isn't up for implementation yet. He said these ambiguous remarks only lead to a different kind of GCQ — "general confusion and questions."

Garcia further explained what the "modified coding scheme" will mean, should Metro Manila be downgraded from modified enhanced community quarantine to GCQ by June 1.

If a private car is coding on that day, it is only allowed to ply the roads if there are two or more people in the car. On non-coding days, cars may be used freely. He said the proposal of 17 Metro Manila mayors on Tuesday to implement the new coding scheme is the local government units' answer to the limited operation of public transportation.

"Kung Monday, bawal ang 1 and 2 kung mag-isa ka lang. Kung dalawa kayo, iyun ang incentive na pwede niyo ilabas. It's better than hindi mo pwede gamitin totally," he said.

[Translation: Cars with license plate numbers ending in 1 and 2 aren't allowed to go out on Mondays if there is only one person inside. But under the new scheme, it will be allowed if there are two people enside. That is better than the previous scheme.]

He said the modified coding scheme seeks to address the gaps in public transportation. Mass transportation in Metro Manila will remain limited under GCQ, as the MMDA wants buses and jeeps to not operate for two more weeks. Only shuttles of private companies, transport network vehicle services such as GrabCar, taxis, tricycles, and point-to-point buses will be allowed for those who need to travel to work.

"To help PUVs, i-aallow ang coding vehicles na lumabas as long as mayroong pasaherong dalawa or more — hanggang sa limit ng DOH," he explained.

[Translation: To help public transport, we will allow coding vehicles as long as there are two or more passengers.]

The number coding scheme has been implemented to reduce the volume of vehicles plying Metro Manila roads by banning certain motorists at certain hours, depending on the last digit of license plates. It was temporarily suspended when Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine in April.

Metro Manila mayors unanimously recommended easing COVID-19 mitigation measures in the region to a general community quarantine or GCQ. The Inter-Agency Task Force will discuss and make recommendations to Duterte, who has the final say.