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COVID-19 WATCH

Palace responds to stranded workers’ plight

Francis Wakefield

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Malacanang Salvador Panelo stranded covid-19

As the public reels from the effects of a suspended mass transportation service following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire Luzon region under enhanced community quarantine, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo on Tuesday revealed that it has taken steps to help stranded workers and employees.

In a statement, Panelo said that Army trucks and buses with markings of the official logo of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be plying the streets of Metro Manila to help ferry workers and employees who are affected by the ongoing Luzon-wide community quarantine.

The Palace official made the announcement after reports of the plight of workers and employees stranded from work, as well as those health workers and those in the exempted group of the ban who could not go to their places of work on Day One of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon.

Panelo noted that they immediately communicated the concern to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana – who directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to bring out their army trucks to ferry those who are stranded — particularly health workers and other individuals exempted from the ban — so they can be safely brought to their places of work and their homes after work.

He added that they have brought up the same problem to the attention of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and its Chairman Danilo Lim, who gave an immediate positive response.

“Chairman Lim has already coordinated with different bus companies, especially Wescapboa, a transport cooperative and the West Cavite Philippine Bus Operators Association, as well as the Jasper Jean Bus Liner,” said Panelo.

“They have started to send out their buses after marking the same with the official logo of the MMDA to put law enforcement agents on notice of their purpose of free public service in favor of those exempted from home quarantine,” he added.

The Presidential spokesman commended the bus companies for their bayanihan spirit, noting also that the same commendation goes to AVIS Philippines for its offer to transport outbound passengers who intend to depart the country in going to the airport and inbound passengers to their respective homes before the expiration of the 72-hour grace period from the effectivity of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.

Panelo also said everyone is called upon to rise to the challenges of this dangerous and extremely difficult phase of the country’s history as a nation.

“The President himself is setting the example. He went out early this morning to monitor the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon,” Panelo said. “The Palace will continue to assess the evolving health crisis to give the appropriate response to any problematic situation during this period even as we assure everyone that the consequent inconvenience arising from this government undertaking is minuscule and temporary as against the end result of securing our safety and survival from the dreaded COVID-19.”

“We reiterate our appeal to our countrymen that self-discipline and self-help plus selfless community cooperation are the keys to the success of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in these trying and perilous times,” he added.

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