MANILA – An official of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) on Friday said the recent ‘social distancing’ measure enforced on the rail service — which led to long queues and waiting time — was merely a simulation pending the release of official guidelines.
“Simulations po in preparation for social distancing while we are waiting for the official guidelines,” said Engr. Michael Capati, MRT-3 director for operations, in a message.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran, meanwhile, said the guidelines, which would contain not only the social distancing measures on the MRT-3 but in all public transportation in Metro Manila, would be announced once finalized after a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“Pag-uusapan po yan sa (That will be discussed in the) IATF meeting. We will announce the guidelines once finalized and available,” Libiran said.
The measure came after President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement of a ‘community quarantine’ over Metro Manila which included the stringent application of social distancing in public transportation, especially in rail transports in the region.
However, netizens were quick to criticize the measure as the usual long queues to board the MRT-3 worsened and alleged that the measure does not address possible contamination.
In a comment on an MRT-3 post on Facebook, netizen Jeremy Paul got in line to board the MRT-3 for two hours on Friday morning—compared to his usual 40-minute travel on the rail line—until he decided to go home instead.
“Bakit may social distancing pa? Ganun din naman, magkakadikit pa rin yung mga mukha namin sa haba ng pila. Mas matagal pa yung pila kesa sa biyahe (Why is there even social distancing? It was basically the same, our faces were practically touching due to the long queues. Queuing was longer than the journey),” Paul said.
Some netizens also suggested more practical measures to combat the public health threat, with Edu Odovelas Jr. suggesting to have face masks mandatory for passengers instead of social distancing.
Moreover, netizen Ricca Ng posted a comprehensive response to the MRT-3, suggesting that the train line must also require passengers to keep their masks on at all times and to use temperature scanners in entrances.
“Lesser work sa inyo at mas makaka-focus pa kayo sa other things instead of wala na kayo magagawa the whole day—lagi na lang i-check mga trains na hindi mapuno (It less work for the MRT-3 since they can focus on other things instead of being preoccupied the whole day ensuring the trains don’t get full),” Ng said.
The community quarantine in Metro Manila came after authorities raised Code Red Sub-level 2 on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on Thursday night.
Starting Sunday (March 15) midnight, travel in and out of the metro will be restricted while classes and work in the executive branch are suspended until April 12 and April 14, respectively, as part of the government’s proactive measures against the disease. (PNA)