[OPINION] The shift to GCQ: When the brakes were off and we were left on the road

[OPINION] The shift to GCQ: When the brakes were off and we were left on the road
'Today was supposed to be my first day back at work. I woke up really early to try my luck, to no avail. No PUVs, PUJs, taxis, TNVS, nor any government-operated vehicles were in sight.'

Today is one of those days when it’s just so hard to be a commuter in the Philippines. Yes, a Filipino commuter. In a pandemic. 

After two and half months of quarantine, the government finally decided to loosen travel restrictions by downgrading from ECQ to GCQ. They say it’s not at all an indicator that COVID-19 is going away; it’s just the country’s way of helping the economy. 

I understand this, really, but I am not convinced with how the government is handling this.  

They say people can now go back to work, but public transportation remains banned. So how are we supposed to reach our workplaces? Take me, for example: I don’t have a motorcycle, and even if you tell me I could just get a bicycle, I am scared of getting sandwiched by hasty drivers on the highways and main thoroughfares. If you are somebody from Cebu City, you’ll know that drivers here don’t understand the meaning of red and green lights; they also don’t respect lanes. (READ: Senators slam DOTr’s ‘poor planning, lack of foresight’ for commuters)

I am highly dependent on public transportation. It’s the most cost-efficient way of going around. I also realize that the countries I really look up to when it comes to efficiency are those whose mass transportation systems are dependable – Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong. They’re so well-organized that people of all walks of life can be found inside the same tube. You can even find a man in a full-blown suit and tie just across your seat. 

Today was supposed to be my first day back at work. I woke up really early to try my luck, to no avail. No PUVs, PUJs, taxis, TNVS, nor any government-operated vehicles were in sight. I informed my boss that I couldn’t make it to the office today because of the situation and hoped for his consideration and understanding. After asking me if I had thought of biking, and after I told him how I felt about biking, he finally said that I could just work from home until transportation become available. I thank God for his empathy, but this can’t be for long, as my other boss would certainly require me to report as soon as possible. Which I also understand. 

Within the two months that the whole country was put to a halt, I was really expecting that our officials would have already devised a transportation scheme for our new reality. But with everything that transpired today, I can only hope and pray that things will get better. (READ: On their own: Commuters and the looming transportation crisis in Metro Manila)

This is one of those days when I feel like I am a mere employee who must find a way to go to work if I want to keep my job. And you bet I don’t want to lose my job at the height of this pandemic. 

When they turned the brakes off, I had hoped that they were thinking of people like me, who were left with nothing on the road. – Rappler.com

Chanda Pearl Simeon is a full-time working law student. During the day, she is a management executive at the Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum, and at night, she morphs into an aspiring lawyer.