LTO: Face mask policy in private vehicles for motorists' convenience, not enforcers’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 10) — The current policy requiring people to wear face masks inside a private vehicle even when they come from the same household is for their convenience, the Land Transportation Office said.

"Hindi po konsiderasyon yung convenience ng enforcers but rather convenience po nung taong pipigilin kung sakaling sila po'y naobserbahan na di naka-face mask," LTO chief Edgar Galvante explained during a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation Wednesday.

[Translation: The convenience of enforcers isn't a consideration but rather of the riding public who will be pulled over once they've been observed not wearing face masks.]

Transport Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon also reiterated during the hearing that the policy aims to further prevent any transmission while inside a vehicle, which is an enclosed space. Individuals are required to wear face masks inside vehicles unless one is driving alone, according to a joint statement released earlier by the DOTr and the Health Department.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon meanwhile questioned why the transport body considers the failure to wear masks as reckless driving, noting the act refers to how one operates a vehicle and navigates the road.

Galvante explained the act is considered reckless because it means the driver in question allowed a passenger without a mask to board the vehicle, putting them in danger.

Given this, penalties for those not wearing masks will be similar to reckless driving, the LTO official said. Lawmakers questioned this, with some emphasizing that many people are struggling because of the pandemic.

Instead of fines, Batangas 4th District Rep. Lianda Bolilia suggested making community service a penalty for violators instead.