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Restore PUJ routes with EO in preparation for economic recovery

MANILA, Philippines – As a countermeasure to soaring fuel prices, the government’s economic recovery policy agenda should include the restoration of full capacity on all public utility jeepneys (PUJ) and tricycle routes, a House leader said on Thursday.

Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay said that with the signing of Executive Order 166, there is no longer any reason to prevent jeepney and tricycle routes from returning to full capacity, noting that both are critical rural transportation options.

“Both modes of transport are well-ventilated. Both should return to normal, particularly in light of the high cost of gasoline “Salceda told reporters in a message.

EO 166 aims to maintain current economic gains, mitigate the long-term negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and re-establish the country’s development trajectory.

It directs government offices to strengthen healthcare capacity; accelerate and expand the vaccination program; further reopen the economy and expand public transportation capacity; resume face-to-face learning; relax domestic travel restrictions and standardize local government unit requirements, and relax international travel requirements.

Salceda also emphasized the shift toward more useful metrics that place a greater emphasis on critical case rates and hospital utilization rates.

“We should refocus our attention away from raw case numbers. What matters is the number of people who are actually at risk of death as a result of this pandemic “‘He stated.

Additionally, the EO directs the national government to accelerate digital transformation through legislative measures; to provide for enhanced and flexible emergency measures through legislation; to redirect decision-making and government reporting toward more useful and empowering metrics, and to prepare for pandemic resilience in the medium term.

Salceda urged the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to recalibrate the Covid-19 alert level system to reflect “on-the-ground realities.”

He stated that the Covid-19 alert level system should be proportional to actual risks in order to prevent people from being “unnecessarily constrained” in their daily activities.

He emphasized the apparent arbitrariness with which provinces are assigned different alert levels, citing the case of Albay, where the majority of municipalities have not recorded any Covid-19 cases in weeks and hospital utilization rates are low.

“I cannot believe that NCR (National Capital Region) is at a lower risk and alert level than Albay, despite the fact that population density, hospitalization rates, raw case numbers, and other indicators indicate otherwise,” he said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 166 on Monday, directing all government agencies and offices to implement a ten-point policy agenda aimed at hastening the Philippine economy’s recovery from the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

All state departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations and state universities and colleges, are required by EO 166 to ensure that all related policies, measures, and programs are consistent with the adopted policy agenda.

Martin Andanar, the presidential spokesman and communications secretary, stated that the 10-point policy agenda for the country’s economic recovery is not an “exit strategy” from the coronavirus pandemic.

Andanar stated that the policy agenda is part of the process of preparing for the “new normal.”

“We do not believe this is the current Administration’s exit strategy, as this is part of the country’s preparation for the New Normal,” Andanar said.

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