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Are Commuters to Blame for Chaos on the Road?

The MMDA seems to think so.
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Wake up at 5 a.m. Leave the house before 6 a.m. Spend around two hours commuting. Work. Spend another two hours commuting back home. Sleep. Repeat. This is more or less how the average day is spent when you work in Metro Manila—and with the shift to a general community quarantine, it looks like folks are spending even more time on the road than normal.

The first few days saw ordinary workers struggling to get a ride to work, and what looked to be a chilling absence of physical distancing. Well, according to Jojo Garcia, general manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, commuters themselves are to blame for the lack of physical distancing on the Metro's roads.

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"Nawala ang physical distancing dyan, kasi nga nakakalimot," said Garcia in an interview on One News. "Sana wag silang mawalan ng focus," he added referring to the fact that the pandemic is not yet over. 

The situation on-ground

June 1 marked the first day of the general community quarantine (GCQ)—a Monday workday. Several modes of public transportation, including the Metro's four train lines and taxis, were allowed to operate at limited capacity. Buses and jeepneys, which most low-income earners depend on the most, were not allowed to resume operations.

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In the rush to get on any available mode of transportation, commuters were unable to stay in line with the rules of physical distancing. We can't say for sure whether they willingly chose to forget about the rules in that moment or they simply could not follow. What we can say is that with the lack of transport options, commuting in Metro Manila has taken a turn for the worse. 

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The promised bike lanes were also non-existent. A bike group that took matters into their own hands and created a makeshift barrier to protect bikers along Commonwealth Avenue has been hit with a fine by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA)

Leonel Antones, a 36-year-old construction worker, walked from his home in Cavite in order to get to work in Makati City this Monday, according to an Unang Balita report. Antones began walking at around midnight. 

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"Ang problema nga, walang sasakyan, [kaya] nag-aagawan," admitted Garcia. He pointed out that the MMDA is aware of the problem. Modern jeepneys and passenger buses will be allowed to operate on June 21, he stated, saying that by then the MMDA aims to have worked out all the kinks. 

Main image by Jerome Ascano

This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Mia Rodriguez for Spot.ph
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