Vico Sotto appeals for exemption of tricycles from public transport ban during Luzon lockdown

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2020 06:02 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2020 02:04 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto appealed to the national government Wednesday to exempt tricycles from the ongoing ban on public transportation vehicles, saying the three-wheeled vehicles can save lives during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tricycles are needed for emergency trips, and to ferry health professionals and essential service providers who are exempted from the lockdown in Luzon, which is meant to control the spread of the disease, Sotto explained.

“Nakikiusap po ako sa ating nasyonal na pamahalaan na baka pwede bigyan ng konsiderasyon yung tricycle, hindi na po para sa tricycle driver, para po sa public health and safety,” he said.

(I am appealing to the national government if maybe they could reconsider the ban on tricycles, not for the tricycle driver but for public health and safety.)

The national government has suspended the operation of pedicabs, tricycles, jeepneys, buses, train lines, and taxis during the month-long lockdown of Luzon.

Responding to the city mayor’s appeal, the Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya urged Sotto to be "more creative" in dealing with the transportation problem in his city.

"Now, if other LGUs in Metro Manila can shuttle their health care workers why can’t Pasig? The other LGUs are now using buses to ferry their health care workers. Pasig is the only LGU that has not complied with the directive of the President," Malaya told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

"We appeal to Mayor Vico to be more creative in dealing with this problem just like the other Metro Manila mayors who have addressed this problem already," he added.

Based on a risk assessment conducted by the Pasig City government, Sotto said more people will be put in harm’s way if tricycles are not allowed to operate.

“Sa risk assessment po na ginawa namin, pag di po natin pinayagan ang mga tricycle mas marami pong mamamatay,” he said.

(Based on the risk assessment that we conducted, more people will die if we don’t allow tricycles to operate.)

For now, Sotto said had allowed "limited" tricyle trips in Pasig, provided the number of passengers per ride is small enough to observe social distancing or a gap of at least one meter from another person to minimize the risk of infection.

He clarified that Pasig City is not defying orders of the national government but the local government unit’s vehicles are not enough to ferry health workers and emergency frontliners.

“Hindi po tayo nagde-defy. Susunod po tayo pero ito po — kung ok na ‘yung transport system natin para sa mga health workers at essential workers, ok na po ako. Ok lang kung naka-set-up na talaga. Kami po sinusubukan namin ang lahat...pero kulang pa rin po talaga sa ngayon,” he said.

(We are not defying. We will follow but if our transport system is already okay, then it’s okay for me. We’re trying everything…but it’s not enough at this point.)

Pasig City has 10 quarantine checkpoints where some tricycle drivers are given tickets by police officers, Sotto said.

The mayor said he would pay for the tickets given to tricycle drivers who were apprehended Wednesday.

“Para sa public health naman po ito, pare-pareho naman po tayo ng layunin dito. We want to save lives,” he said.

The latest update from health authorities showed that there are 10 people in Pasig City who tested positive for COVID-19, Sotto told radio dzMM. Two from the city who were infected with the disease passed away.

 “Sumunod po tayo sa ating community quarantine. Kailangan po ang kooperasyon ng lahat kung gusto po natin mapabagal ang pagkalat ng COVID-19,” he said.

(Let’s follow the community quarantine. We need everyone’s cooperation if we want to slow down the spread of COVID-19)