Cabbies ‘upset but understand’ need to enforce quarantine

The government on Monday ordered the suspension of mass transportation in Luzon for as long as necessary, as the country tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Noontime Tuesday, however, saw a long line of cabs along E. Delos Santos Avenue.

Police estimated that 600 drivers were hailed on the first day of the temporary suspension of mass transport.

Some of these drivers, according to the Regional Highway Patrol Group (RHPG) of the National Capital Region (NCR), said they have not heard of the suspension while others said they were just on their way home.

51-year old Joseph del Rosario said he saw the online live stream about the enhanced community quarantine and the added restriction on public commute.

“Hindi po ako violator. Pauwi lang po talaga ako ngayon sa amin. Mahirap po kasi. Mawawalan (kami) ng pagkakakitaan pero nakakatakot din naman para sa amin na bumyahe (I am not a violator. I am just on my way home. This is difficult because we will lose our livelihood but it is also scary for us to travel),” del Rosario said, adding that his passengers are often foreigners or tourists who are most likely to be carriers of the disease.

He also shared that his wife tends to a sari-sari store at home and it should be enough to feed them during the quarantine.

“Tiis-tiis na lang po. Tayo naman lahat (We are just going to endure this. Everyone is affected by this situation),” del Rosario said.

Another cab that was hailed carried a father and his son who said they were on their way to pick up his daughter who had just gotten off work and needed a ride home.

“Hindi naman po kami babyahe. Yung ate ko kasi kailangan nya ng masasakyan pauwi galing office nya. Eh kasi, di ba, wala pong commute. So susunduin namin sya. Itong taxi lang po kasi ang sasakyan namin so lumakad po kami (We took the cab out to pick up my sister who just finished work. She can’t go home on her own because there is no commute. This taxi is our only vehicle at home, so we used it),” 20-year-old Eljay Delayun said.

In an interview, NCR-RHPG chief, Col. Wilson Doromal, said for now, they only warn the drivers and inform them of the suspension.

“Nire-record lang natin sila ngayon. Hindi naman tayo nanghuhuli kasi may mga iba na hindi pa fully aware sa bagong pronouncement ng gobyerno. But if this happens again, if we catch them again, doon na po sila matatawag na violator and pwedeng kasuhan (Now, we are merely recording their names, informing them of the situation. Not everyone is fully aware yet of the government's pronouncements. But if this happens again, if we catch them again, they will be held liable and will be labeled violators. We can file cases against),” Doromal said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Meanwhile, 68-year-old Eufracio Cartejenas, a cab driver from Valenzuela City, said he insisted on going out to work because he would go hungry if he stays home.

“Gutom. Alam ko yun (suspension) pero magugutom ako kaya lumabas. Paano ba yun? Papakainin ba ako ng gobyerno? (That would mean hunger for me. I know about the suspension but I would only go hungry if I follow it, so I went out. How would things go? Will the government feed me?),” Cartejenas said.

68-year-old Eufracio Cartajenas shows his warning ticket given by police officers on Monday.

During the announcement of the suspension of mass transport, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles said given that the country is under a state of calamity, the government shall operate as if there is one.

“The local government unit knows what to do. They will provide the necessary assistance to their area of governance, like food, etc. The Department of Social Welfare and Development is also preparing its food packs for delivery to those who are in need,” Nograles said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health on Wednesday announced that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines has reached 202.

Of this total, the department recorded at least seven recoveries. The last reported death toll was 15

Source: Philippines News Agency