Pasig to comply with ban on tricycles during coronavirus lockdown

JC Gotinga
The national government earlier rejected Mayor Vico Sotto’s plea to allow limited tricycle trips for essential workers and the sick during the coronavirus lockdown

MAYOR VICO. Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto addresses residents of Pasig city on October 8, 2019. File photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Tricycles, too, will no longer be allowed on the streets of Pasig, after the national government rejected a plea from city mayor Vico Sotto to allow the modified motorcycle taxis to take limited trips during the Luzon-wide lockdown to avert the spread of the novel coronavirus.

We will comply. Marami kaming efforts sa transpo, mula bus hanggang bike (We have many efforts in transportation, from buses to bikes),” Sotto told Rappler on Thursday, March 19.

“Pero libo-libo kasi pinag-uusapan natin – ‘di lang frontliners kundi pati mga regular na pasyente at mga sitwasyong may emergency,” he added. (But we’re talking about thousands of people – not just frontliners but also regular patients and emergency situations.)

When the lockdown began on Tuesday, March 17, Sotto allowed tricycles to make “limited trips” to service essential workers exempted from the travel ban, and the infirm who do not have their own cars.

To observe social distancing – keeping ample personal space to avoid contagion – Sotto ordered to limit the number of passengers each tricycle could take on per trip to just one in the side car and another behind the driver. Tricycles usually put up to 3 passengers in the side car and two behind the driver.

Knowing the move was against the national government’s orders, Sotto asked for consideration, pointing out that tricycles were the most easily available and inexpensive mode of door-to-door transportation in Pasig. With the right number of passengers, they are even safer than enclosed, air-conditioned private cars in terms of preventing viral transmission, he said.

Sotto also pointed out that some neighborhoods in Pasig have streets that are too narrow for most types of vehicles, save for tricycles and motorcycles. In an emergency, said Sotto, a tricycle would be the best option to go in and get people out of such places. Pasig City is home to at least 755,000 residents. 

Despite deploying all the city government’s buses and other vehicles, Sotto said they were not enough to convey the thousands of people with legitimate reasons to travel during the lockdown.

The national government’s lockdown order exempts health workers, security forces, certain government officials, media personnel, and those with emergencies from the travel ban.

On Wednesday night, March 18, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles rejected Sotto’s appeal, saying the government did not see how social distancing could be practiced in such a cramped vehicle as tricycles.

“Let’s all stick to the common ground rules,” Nograles said.

Sotto said Pasig will then have to make do with their buses, bicycles, and other vehicles. Some private groups have lent buses and vans to the city – but the mayor was apprehensive about the poor and the sick, who would find it difficult to walk to bus stops. – Rappler.com

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.