Northern Mindanao buses continue to operate despite coronavirus fears
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Public transport, particularly buses, continued to ply their routes within Northern Mindanao despite the stirct measures implemented nationwide to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board Region 10 Director Aminoden Guro said that buses and other public transports are still allowed to operate but only intraregional routes.
This means, Guro said, these bus companies could still crisscross Northern Mindanao, but would be barred from entering Caraga, Davao, Zamboanga and BARMM.
"Rural Transport Mindanao Incorporated, (RTMI), Super 5 and Pabama continue to operate provided they observe stringent measures for travelers," Guro said.
Jessie Boy Lentorio, Manager of RTMI Yacapin Branch confirmed that their company continued to serve the public, especially in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte.
Lentorio said RTMI provided handwashing stations at the Agora and Westbound bus terminals in Cagayan de Oro. It also required thermal scanning and using alcohol hand sanitizers before boarding their buses.
Lentorio added that passengers will be stamped on their wrist to show that they have gone through the inspection and sanitation process. Travellers need to sign their passenger logbook and write where they came from and where they were going.
"All our buses are disinfected before the trip. We are also implementing the LTFRB guideline on social distancing, all passegers are one seat apart, at only 50% capacity of the bus," Lentorio said.
Right to travel vs public health
"It is in our law, the right to travel. Every person has the right to be where he wants to be, although that is not absolute. One of the exception is public health. That's the basis for the restriction," said Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno.
Moreno said that the real spirit of the quarantine is to stay home. "Hopefully, what we are doing is preemptive, our measures since the beginning have been calibrated," he added.
On Friday, March 19, Moreno reached out to the political leaders of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon for the implementation og a wider community quarantine area.
Moreno asked Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro to have primary checkpoints where they share borders with Region 10
Moreno said it was difficult to close the city's border, "I find it difficult that it is only in our city, what is important is that we prevent the entry of the virus," Moreno said.
Moreno added that they were closing Region 10's boundary following the first recorded COVID-19 death in this city and in Mindanao. The patient though is not from this city. – Rappler.com