Pasig launches e-trikes for the sick, food vouchers for public students

JC Gotinga
Patients may book free e-trike rides to hospitals two days before their medical appointment

MOBILE PALENGKE. Residents in Barangay Bambang, Pasig City, buy fresh produce from the city government's roving stores on March 26, 2020. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Pasig government is offering free rides on e-tricycles (e-trikes) for residents with scheduled appointments at hospitals within the city starting this week – a way to assist the sick who have no access to transportation during the “enhanced community quarantine” or lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pasig Transport announced the Libreng Hatid service on its official social media accounts on Monday afternoon, March 30.

The service is available to:

  • patients with chronic diseases
  • patients needing regular dialysis or chemotherapy
  • patients claiming antiretroviral drugs
  • persons with disability or pregnant women needing a checkup
  • persons seeking non-emergency medical treatment

To reserve a ride, residents must call the Pasig Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) at 8-643-0000 two days before their scheduled medical appointment.

Patients will be asked to provide their name, contact number, the exact address and a landmark of their pickup point, the schedule of their medical checkup, the hospital, clinic, or health center they need to go to, and proof that they have regular medical appointments there.

Because the number of e-trikes is limited, the service is on a first come, first served basis. Those with canceled appointments are urged to inform the DRRMO beforehand in order to accommodate other patients.

The local government enlisted the help of app-based disability service AccessiWheels to create a system, and local schools that lent their e-trikes to the effort.

This comes more than a week after the national government disapproved of Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto’s request that ordinary tricycles be permitted to make limited trips during the lockdown to service the sick, the elderly, health care frontliners, and other essential workers who were having trouble finding a ride to work.

Pasig has since deployed its fleet of buses and shuttles lent by private groups to ferry health workers and employees of essential establishments.

Sotto then worried that the sick and elderly needing medical attention and who don’t have their own vehicles would have to walk as far as 5 kilometers to the 3 public hospitals located in Pasig.

The national government earlier allowed the City of Manila to operate an e-trike scheme to service health workers.

Food vouchers for students

Also this week, the Pasig government will be distributing food vouchers worth P400 to the city’s public school students, Sotto announced on Friday, March 27.

The local government will be coordinating with school teachers and the Department of Education to make sure the vouchers reach the students, as classes remain suspended.

The handouts are meant to tide over poor students and their families during the lockdown.

“Bakit po natin tina-target ‘yung schools at ‘yung mga mag-aaral natin sa pampublikong paaralan?…. Dahil ‘yung epekto ng pag-stunt ng kanilang growth kung hindi sila makakakain nang maayos ngayon – kulang po sa sustansya, sa nutrisyon – magiging panghabangbuhay po ‘yung epekto nito,” Sotto said in a Facebook live video.

(Why are we targeting the students in our public schools?…. That’s because the effects of stunted growth if they’re unable to eat properly now – lacking in nutrition – the effects would be lifelong.)

Sotto said only one member of each family should pick up the vouchers at public schools. The local government will announce further guidelines in the coming days.

Social amelioration

The city government added stall holders in Pasig’s main public market to its list of workers entitled to a P3,000 handout, which will also begin distribution this week.

Although the city’s Mega Market remains open, only a few stalls on the wet market ground floor are operating. All the dry goods shops on the 2nd and 3rd floors are closed.

The city government is waiving rent for at least a month, and interest on arrears is temporarily frozen, Sotto said in the same live video.

Other recipients of the cash assistance are drivers of jeepneys, tricycles, and UV Express vans, all of which are grounded during the lockdown expected to last until April 14.

Meanwhile, the distribution of some 400,000 grocery packs is still underway. Only families from the city’s poor communities will receive the food bags to stretch limited resources, Sotto said. As a result, the recipient households will get more than one ration during the lockdown.

These efforts, Sotto said, are geared toward preventing social unrest as many informal workers from poor families are unable to earn a living during the lockdown. – 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.