Tugade admits 'failure of implementation' when commuters forced to ride crowded trucks

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 2) — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Tuesday addressed criticisms on the lack of public transportation in Metro Manila which has left commuters struggling to get to work.

Social media posts on Monday showed desperate workers forced to travel crammed in police and military trucks.

"Kung mga may nangyayaring ganyan, hindi ho yan resulta ng pagpayag but resulta ho ng tinatawag natin na failure of implementation at kailangan lang i-correct," Tugade said in an online briefing, stressing that social distancing should be observed in all modes of transportation.

[Translation: If cases like that happen, it was not because it was allowed. It was a result of what we call failure of implementation and we need to correct it.]

More people have returned to work in Metro Manila starting on Monday since the capital region was placed under a more relaxed general community quarantine.

From June 1 to 21, rails and trains will resume partial operations in Metro Manila with bus augmentation. Shuttles of private companies and point-to-point buses are also allowed on the road, but other buses and jeepneys are still prohibited.

Tugade said traditional jeepneys and buses may be allowed to operate if there's a guarantee that social distancing and other health protocols will be followed.

Several officials, including Senator Nancy Binay, criticized transportation authorities for not having a clear plan for returning employees who are only relying on public transportation to get to their workplaces. She even challenged Tugade and other transport officials to commute to work to get a feel of the effects of their guidelines.

Tugade said the inconvenience experienced by commuters was only temporary.

"Hindi ho totoong walang plano... Sa aming paglunsad at pagaganap ng mga planong ito, natural mente na merong mga taong nai-inconvenience. Sinasakripisyo ba natin ang mga manggagawa? Hindi ho," Tugade said.

[Translation: It's not true that there's no plan. In our implementation of these plans, it's natural that some people will be inconvenienced. Are we sacrificing the workers? No.]

Philippine National Police spokesperson Bernard Banac also noted reports of the situation, and said that while they have deployed police trucks to assist stranded workers, they can only accommodate around 10 passengers per vehicle due to the physical distancing rule.

Banac advised the public to make schedule adjustments in the meantime to avoid delays, while the government addresses the issue.

“Alam po natin na kulang po tayo sa public transport ngayon. Makakabuti pong planuhing maigi (ang ating pagbyahe) para hindi tayo maantala sa trabaho,” he said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

[Translation: We know that we currently lack public transport. It would be better to carefully plan our trips, so that we won’t experience delays in going to work.]

He also said that the peace and order situation in the capital region is under control, adding they have “not noticed any major shift in the crime trend.”

Commuters were seen enduring long lines and hitching rides on crowded trucks. Metro Manila had been on strict quarantine measures for three months but were eased starting on Monday as officials cited the need to start reopening the economy.