Vico Sotto urges nat’l gov’t to allow tricycles during coronavirus lockdown

JC Gotinga

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Vico Sotto urges nat’l gov’t to allow tricycles during coronavirus lockdown

'We are talking about the potential damage to public health and a possible loss of lives,' says Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto

MANILA, Philippines – Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said he lost sleep thinking about how the city would manage without tricycles, as the national government bans all public transportation during the “enhanced community quarantine” to deter the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The first-time mayor urged the national government to allow tricycles on the streets, saying their absence would have dire consequences on public health, based on the city government’s risk assessment. (READ: Vico Sotto vows full salaries for all Pasig government workers during lockdown)

“Pa’no na po ang mangyayari kung hindi makasakay ang mga health workers at libo-libong mga pasyente na nangangailangan ng treatment? Palalakarin ba talaga natin ng 5 kilometro ang isang dialysis patient na senior citizen? Ang cancer patient na bagong opera?” Sotto said in a social media post on Wednesday, March 18.

(What would happen if health workers and thousands of patients needing treatment are unable to get a ride? Are we really going to make a dialysis patient who’s a senior citizen, or a cancer patient fresh from surgery, walk 5 kilometers?)

“Pa’no na rin po kung magkaroon ng emergency, lalo na sa mga lugar na tricycle lang ang kasya? Kahit na may Libreng Sakay tayo, magkukulang ito.”

(What if there’s an emergency, especially in places only tricycles can reach? Even if we have our Libreng Sakay program, it’s not enough.)

“Let us also remember that not everyone has access to private cars. Not to mention that sharing private, enclosed vehicles may actually be more conducive to the spread of the virus, as compared to a tricycle with a maximum of two passengers.”

“Sana makita po ng mga ginagalang nating lider na may perspektibo kami sa local government unit na maaaring ‘di nakikita mula sa mas mataas.”

(I hope our esteemed leaders would see that we in the local government unit have a perspective that might not be visible from a higher vantage point.)

“I am not yet even considering the social and economic effects of prohibiting tricycles. We are talking about the potential damage to public health and a possible loss of lives,” Sotto concluded.

Sotto on Tuesday, March 17, said he would allow tricycles to make limited trips around Pasig to service essential workers and commuters needing to buy food or seek treatment at hospitals or health centers. They are, after all, exempted from President Rodrigo Duterte’s lockdown order.

However, the national government insisted on the total ban of public transportation, which includes tricycles, under pain of prosecution.

In Pasig, where many neighborhood streets are too narrow for other modes of transport, tricycles are the most common and least expensive way of getting from door to door, as opposed to jeepneys that have set routes and are confined to main thoroughfares.

The city government is using its public buses and other vehicles to service exempted workers and commuters on essential travel, but Sotto said these are not enough to accommodate everyone.


‘Community quarantine’

Duterte placed Metro Manila on lockdown beginning Sunday, March 15, and then the rest of Luzon starting Tuesday, cutting public transportation and urging businesses to downscale operations to discourage people from moving around.

The “enhanced community quarantine” of Metro Manila is set until April 14. For the rest of Luzon, it’s until April 12.

The measure exempts health workers, security forces, media personnel, and employees of essential services such as groceries, drugstores, and local governments. It also allows people to buy food and supplies, and to travel for health reasons.

On Tuesday, the first day of the stricter lockdown, droves of people struggled to catch rides, forcing many to walk all the way to their destinations.

Some local governments and agencies such as the Office of the Vice President have deployed vehicles to service commuters who have legitimate reasons to travel during the lockdown.

The government hopes to quell the coronavirus by limiting the movement of people, urging them to stay home and practice “social distancing,” or keeping at least a meter away from one another to avoid contagion.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has had 193 confirmed cases of infection, 14 deaths, and 7 recoveries. Experts from the country and the World Health Organization estimate that cases could peak to 75,000 by June if not properly contained.

The global number of cases has reached more than 189,000, with over 7,800 deaths. At least 146 countries are affected by the pandemic. –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.