Duterte to decide on fate of transport distancing rule no later than Thursday — Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16)— President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to decide on the fate of the new public transport distancing policy within the week, his spokesperson said.

Speaking to CNN Philippines on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force has crafted its fresh recommendations on the much-debated transport protocol, with the chief executive expected to review and decide “no later than” Thursday.

“The body came up with a recommendation to be submitted to the President, and it will be the President who will ultimately decide,” Roque said in an interview with The Source. “I think the President will decide no later than tomorrow.”

Roque did not provide further details regarding the IATF’s final recommendation, which he said was a result of Tuesday’s six-hour meeting among officials and health experts.

He said that while parties had varying opinions on the matter, the task force’s final report was ultimately based on science and medical advice.

In a televised briefing later in the day, Roque said he expects Duterte himself to announce the decision. He added the President will “most likely” address the nation on the matter.

From the one-meter distance recommended by the World Health Organization, the Transportation Department on Monday reduced the distance between commuters inside mass transit to 0.75 meter to accommodate more riders.

The distance will then be further reduced to 0.5 meter by September 28, and will decrease to 0.3 meter by October 12.

The IATF had vowed to review and reassess the policy after a physician’s group earlier warned of a possible rise in COVID-19 transmission due to the easing of distancing rules.

But for now, Roque stressed the 0.75-meter distancing rule will stay unless the President revokes it.