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To address the need for public transportation and prevent human smuggling and colorum practices, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), through the strong-willed leadership of Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, initiated key road transport initiatives which are being implemented, or enhanced  under prevailing community quarantine environment.
In a virtual media briefing today, 8 April 2021, the Road Transport Sector of the DOTr provided status updates on the implementation of various programs such as the opening of more public utility vehicle (PUV) routes, the kilometer fee rate adjustment for PUV operators, as well as the free rides for health workers and essential commuters, particularly within NCR Plus— Metro Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal where the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is being implemented until 11 April 2021.
DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Atty Mark Steven Pastor reported the continuing implementation of the DOTr Free Ride for Health Workers, as well as the additional initiative of offering the Free Ride for Authorize Persons Outside their Residence (APORs) in the NCR plus. 
Asec. Pastor said that since its inception last 18 March 2020 until 7 April 2021, the DOTr Free Ride for Health Workers Program has been able to provide more than 2.2 million total ridership nationwide.
Meanwhile, the total ridership for the Free Ride for APORs using public utility buses (PUBs) and modern public utility jeepneys (MPUJs) reached 779,307 (29 March to 07 April 2021).
As support and encouragement to the participating PUV operators of the free ride programs, Asec. Pastor said that Secretary Tugade has ordered an increase in the kilometer fee rates. For PUBs, the increase is P82.50 from the previous P46.80. For the Modern PUJs, the kilometer fee rate for free rides was increased to P52.50.
Meanwhile, for the PUV Service Contracting Program, there are now 36,535 registered drivers and 25,148 drivers who have already undergone the orientation process.
“Nais kong kunin ang pagkakataon na ito na hikayatin ang ating mga drivers na sumali sa Service Contracting Program ng ating pamahalaan. Ayon nga po kay Secretary Tugade, wag nating palampasin ang oportunidad na ito para makalahok sa programa. Malaking tulong po ito upang madagdagan ang kita sa araw-araw ng ating mga drivers para pandagdag na pambili ng mga pang araw-araw na pangangailangan at pang suporta sa kani-kanilang mga pamilya. Ang programang ito ay para sa kanila na patuloy ang serbisyo sa kabila ng panganib ng pandemya.” Asec. Pastor said.
Meanwhile, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) OIC Board Member Zona Russet Tamayo reported on the opening of Provincial Bus Routes, as well as more PUV routes in Metro Manila in line with the route rationalization plan. She said that a total of 250 routes and a total of 4,400 units were the proposed additional PUVs to be opened effective next week. Tamayo, however, said that the additional PUBs entering Metro Manila is subject to approval and requirements of the concerned Local Government Unit (LGU).
The official also reported that as of March 2021, 76% of pre-COVID data for public transportation in Metro Manila have already been allowed to resume operations during the General Community Quarantine (GCQ). She added that there are a total of 745 opened and operational routes and 53,441 units including taxi, TNVs, shuttle service, and trucks for hire.
The DOTr reiterated that adopting and enhancing these various initiatives are meant to address the recent incidents of ‘COVID-19 smuggling’ and colorum activities. 
DOTr Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Reinier Paul Yebra expounded on the rationale why Secretary Tugade ordered an intensified operation against illegal transport operations. While Secretary Tugade understands that there is the urgent need for mobility, he remains very much concerned with the health and safety of commuters who were availing of these illegal modes of transport, such as the case where nearly 80 individuals turned out to be positive for the virus upon entry in the Bicol Region.
“Gaya ng sinabi ni Secretary Tugade, ang pagtangkilik sa gawaing ito ay easy fix ngunit hindi iniisip na may dala itong panganib. Noong Semana Santa, ayon sa report ng Bicol PDRRMO, halos 80 katao na dinala sa Bicol gamit ang mga colorum na sasakyan ang naitala na nagpositibo sa COVID-19. Noong isang araw, galit na galit si Secretary Tugade matapos mapanood ang viral video ng truck na may ipinupuslit na mga tao mula sa Southern Luzon papasok ng NCR, ito po ay lubhang delikado. Sabi nga ni Secretary Tugade, naiintindihan natin na nais na ng mga kababayan natin na makauwi sa kanilang tahanan, ngunit sa ating pag-uwi sana ay iisipin natin kung wala tayong iuuwing virus. Sumunod po tayo sa mga patakaran upang makatulong tayo sa pagsupil sa pagkalat ng COVID-19,” Usec. Yebra said.
Usec. Yebra emphasized that violators of quarantine protocols face criminal liabilities and fines. He said violation of the minimum public health standards is meted with 1 to 6 months imprisonment and a fine of P20,000 to P50,000. For colorum vans, he said, the fine is P200,000 while for colorum bus, the penalty is P1 million. As for the case of the truck in a viral video, the driver may also be criminally liable for violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, upon proof of required elements, which is punishable with 15 years up to life imprisonment.
Moreover, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante reported that almost 500 personnel from their Central Office, NCR East and West, Regions 4A and 5 have inspected around 12,000 vehicles. The LTO operations had resulted in the apprehension of 78 vehicles, where 51 were colorum and the remaining number violated the IATF and DOTr health and safety protocols.
“Maaaring walang nakikitang indikasyon, hindi naman maaaring maghahanap ka by flagging down the vehicle and check kung may violation. ‘Yung obvious, by visual inspection lang habang sila ay nagta-traverse ng ating mga lansangan at nagre-raise ng suspicion na maaaring sila ay lumabag ay maaaring pigilin at icheck kung may paglabag. Ayaw nating maperwisyo o mabalam ang legitimate na sasakyan na nagta-transport ng kargamento o pasahero na legitimate,” Asec Galvante explained.
The LTO Chief added that the owner and two drivers of the truck in a viral video ferrying untested passengers were already identified. They were issued a show cause order and asked to report at LTO Region 5 to answer violations hurled against them. The violators were also meted with a 90-day preventive suspension where the licenses of the drivers were suspended while the plate number of the vehicle was confiscated.
Meanwhile, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns Manny Gonzales reported on the deployment of I-ACT enforcers in the EDSA Carousel and at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) for the intensified operations against violators of health and safety protocols in public transportation.
#DOTrPH 🇵🇭 #RoadSectorWorks
08 April 2021