Duterte to decide on public transport distancing policy

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2020 12:32 PM | Updated as of Sep 16 2020 01:39 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the public after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Sept. 14, 2020. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo​

MANILA (UPDATE)-- The buck stops with President Rodrigo Duterte.

The President will decide on the country's physical distancing policy for public transport passengers after members of the government's pandemic response task force failed to reach a consensus on the policy, his spokesperson Harry Roque said Wednesday.

The task force will leave it to Duterte to decide on the matter after medical professionals highlighted risks that the easing of stringent physical distancing policies might pose to the public.

"Si Presidente na po ang magde-decide. Ang aking ulit-ulit na sinasabi, nakabase po ito sa siyensa at sa mga advice ng mga doctor, dahil ang mga doctor, iba-iba rin po ang mga pananaw," Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

(The President will decide. Like what I always say, this is based on science and the opinion of doctors, who also have different views.)

"Wala pong isang opinyon pagdating dito sa pagbawas ng isang dangkal lang naman na social distancing sa pampublikong mga transportation," he added.

(There is no single opinion when it comes to the reduction of social distancing in public transport.)

Duterte will "most likely" address the public on the matter, Roque said.

For now, Roque said the reduced physical distancing policy of 0.75 meters from 1 meter remains in effect for commuters.

"So until the President revokes it, I think it will be implemented," he said in a separate interview with CNN Philippines.

The government implemented the policy even as the World Health Organization urged the public to keep a distance of 1 meter from others to dodge the virus.

Earlier, Department of Transportation Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr. said the move was prompted by supposed public clamor to ease physical distancing measures in public transport.

Nearly eight months since logging its first confirmed COVID-19 case, the Philippines has, so far, reported 269,407 coronavirus infections, as of Tuesday, Sept. 15. The active cases are 57,392, total recoveries are 207,352, while the death toll stood at 4,663.