MANILA – The economic recovery policy agenda adopted by the government should entail the restoration of all public utility jeepney (PUJ) and tricycle routes to full capacity as a countermeasure to the soaring fuel prices, a leader of the House of Representatives said on Thursday.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said there is no longer any excuse to keep the jeepney and tricycle routes from returning to full capacity with the signing of Executive Order 166, noting that both are crucial rural transport options.
"Both are well-ventilated modes of transport. Both should return to normal, especially given high fuel prices," Salceda said in a message to reporters.
EO 166 aims to sustain current economic gains, minimize the Covid-19 pandemic’s long-term adverse effects, and restore the country’s development trajectory.
It orders the government offices to strengthen healthcare capacity; accelerate and expand the vaccination program; further reopen the economy and expand public transport capacity; resume face-to-face learning; reduce restrictions on domestic travel and standardize local government units’ requirements; and relax requirements for international travel.
Salceda also highlighted the move to shift to more useful metrics, which focus more on critical case rates and hospital utilization rates.
"We should stop focusing on raw case numbers. What matters is the number of people at real risk of dying from this pandemic," he said.
The EO also mandates the national government to accelerate digital transformation through legislative measures; provide for enhanced and flexible emergency measures through legislation; shift the focus of decision-making and government reporting to more useful and empowering metrics; and undertake medium-term preparation for pandemic resilience.
Salceda called on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases for a recalibration of the Covid-19 alert level system that reflects "on-the-ground realities".
He said the Covid-19 alert level system should be proportional to the actual risks so that people are not "unnecessarily constrained" from going about their business.
He pointed out the seemingly arbitrary way that provinces are assigned to different alert levels, citing the case of Albay, where most municipalities have not recorded Covid-19 cases in weeks and where hospital utilization rates are low.
"I cannot be told that, somehow, NCR (National Capital Region) is at lower risk and alert level than Albay, even when population density, hospitalization rates, raw case numbers, and other metrics say otherwise," he said.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday signed Executive Order (EO) 166 directing all government departments and offices to adopt the 10-point policy agenda to hasten the recovery of the Philippine economy from the impact of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
Under EO 166, all state departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations and state universities and colleges, are mandated to ensure that all related policies, measures, and programs are aligned with the adopted policy agenda.
Presidential Spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the adoption of the 10-point policy agenda for the country’s economic recovery is not an “exit plan” solely from the coronavirus pandemic.
Andanar said the policy agenda is part of the preparations for the shift to the “new normal”.
“We do not share the view that this is the current Administration's exit plan, for this forms part of the country's preparation to build resilience under the New Normal,” Andanar said. (PNA)