TRICYCLE drivers in the country yesterday were ordered to wear their face masks and face shields all the time while waiting for their passengers on the streets with violators of the strict quarantine measure facing the prospect of losing their driver’s license and franchises once caught on the spot blatantly disregarding the measures to help fight the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
This after Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday said he and Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa have ordered all police commanders to seek the help of all transport leaders in their areas in the strict enforcement of quarantine rules specifically wearing of face masks and face shields and social distancing.
The directive was issued amid reports that some tricycle drivers, especially in the provinces, are not wearing face masks and do not observe proper physical distancing for their passengers while plying their routes. There were also public observation that many tricycle drivers remove their face masks and talk with their fellows while waiting for passengers in their terminals unmindful of the fact that they are spilling out their own saliva.
Lt. Gen. Eleazar said the defiance or the complacency being shown by drivers of tricycles and other Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) is dangerous since it would contribute to the spread of the coronavirus amid the continuous rise in accumulated cases of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).
“This must be addressed immediately especially that the passengers or the drivers themselves could be virus carriers already. There should be no room for defiance and complacency because all of our sacrifices for almost five months now would be useless if we continue to allow them to violate the quarantine rules,” he said.
“If this calls for the arrest or cancellation of the driver’s license or the franchise, so be it. These hard-headed people must be taught a serious lesson for they cannot just disregard the minimum health safety standard protocol at the expense of the majority of our law-abiding citizens, at the expense of our frontliners especially our health workers who have already sacrificed so much in taking care of our infected kababayan,” he added.
According to Eleazar, PNP Director for Operations and JTF COVID Shield vice-commander, Major Gen. Emmanuel Luis D. Licup has already issued a memorandum to all PNP City Directors and Chiefs of Police, through their Regional Directors, requiring them to start the dialogue with TODA leaders in the soonest possible time.
“The Philippine National Police cannot do the enforcement alone. We need all the help that we can get to ensure that the quarantine rules are strictly and properly observed. TODAs are good force multipliers especially that their members are always on the streets performing essential services to medical frontliners and other APORs (Authorized Persons Outside Residence),” said Maj. Gen. Licup.
Eleazar said the meeting with local leaders of Transport Operators and Drivers Association (TODA) is aimed at encouraging their full support in policing their own ranks and eventually ensure the safety of their members and the passengers from coronavirus infection.
The official pointed out that the National Task Force on COVID-19 led by Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana made it clear to operators and drivers of PUVs that the minimum health safety standard protocol for both the drivers and passengers must be observed in exchange for allowing them to operate.