THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) take exception to an incident that happened on Sunday April 12, 2020 in Barangay Halang in Calamba City, Laguna where some people obstructed the PNR’s right-of-way, blocked the railway tracks and prevented the passage of a PNR train because the barangay is enforcing its own quarantine rules.
It is quite unfortunate according to PNR General Manager Jun Magno, that barangay officials and the persons who obstructed the free and safe passage of the train were not aware that the DOTr Rail Sector, which includes the PNR, is considered a frontliner in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The PNR under the law, is a reserve transport battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) attached to the Philippine Army since 1941. It may be called upon to render service during times of calamities and emergency such as the present COVID-19 health crisis.
The PNR is committed to assist the government in its fight against COVID-19 and is very willing to transport medical personnel, personnel of the AFP and the Philippine National Police and other frontline service providers and even goods and medical supplies when requested by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Obstructing the passage of the PNR train Calamba City is a clear violation of the PNR’s mandate to always make available its right of way to render public service.
We also question the alleged enforcement of the barangay’s quarantine rules when in fact the area was crowded and there were many people outside their homes.
PNR trains and the personnel manning them comply with the protocols set by the Department of Health (DOH) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The trains are disinfected in the Tutuban Station before deployment and the personnel manning the trains are fully instructed to always wear facemasks and observe health protocols.
For delaying the corporate operation of a government front line agency, the DOTr and the PNR intend to file civil cases and is also coordinating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the filing of administrative cases against the barangay officials behind the rain obstruction.
DOTr Asec. Goddes Hope Libiran said the train involved in the incident was carrying maintenance personnel tasked to ensure the operability of the PNR's tracks during the viral video showing people blocking and obstructing PNR’s tracks, right of way.