Since the suspension of public transportation complementing the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), transportation cooperatives (TCs) have crafted ways of providing assistance to their members and their immediate community. The support came in the form of cash, bags of rice, packs of noodles, or heaps of canned goods distributed to the members and their families.
Throughout the duration of the ECQ, a total of 59 TCs recorded nationwide like the Common Transport Service Cooperative from Quezon City have been distributing various forms of assistance to their members. In the month of April alone, members of the TC were able to receive cash, sacks of rice, trays of eggs, and whole dressed chickens.
Moreover, those who man city, municipality, and barangay checkpoints are also showered with aid and appreciation by some TCs. The Manila International Airport Transport Multipurpose Cooperative from NCR and the First Novo Vizcayano Travellers Transport Cooperative from Region II took time to distribute water, food, and protective gear to checkpoint personnel, and to those who maintain peace and order in their respective communities. The Trece Martires City Transport Cooperative from Region IV-A even provided direct support by manning several checkpoints themselves.
“Hindi lahat ay nabibigyan ng pagkakataong makatulong o makapagbigay ng tulong….kaya kapag kumatok sa atin at humihingi ng tulong huwag nating palampasin lalo na kung may kakayanan din lamang…” Lucban Genesis Transport Service Cooperative Manager Ana Riza Diwata said. (Not everyone has the opportunity and privilege to help. That is why we should not hesitate to lend a hand to those in need.). The Lucban Genesis Transport Service Cooperative have also extended their help by distributing bags of rice to members and employees.
On-going public service
Another service that TCs have been providing is free transportation for residents, health workers, and other frontline workers within their communities. Some have been commissioned by their local government unit (LGU) to provide their transportation services, in exchange for fuel subsidy, meals, allowance, and salary. In just about a month of operations, the Iloilo City Alliance Operators and Drivers Transport Cooperative, in partnership with the Iloilo City LGU, has serviced over 4,200 health workers, frontline workers, and residents in Iloilo City.
Eagles Transport Cooperative in Misamis Occidental has also been hired by the LGU to give free transportation for Department of Health frontline workers, in exchange for diesel, food, and drivers’ allowance.
While some transportation cooperatives were tapped and subsidized by the local government, some have disbursed their own resources to be able to offer free rides for the frontline workers and residents in their areas. TCs like Bahaghari Kapit Bisig Transport Cooperative from Region IV-B have been continuously providing transportation for health workers and bank and municipal employees within Pinamalayan to Bansud, Oriental Mindoro.
“Bagaman alam po namin na financially ay ‘di sapat o anytime maaari pong kapusin ang koop at naisip pa rin namin na magbigay serbisyo sa aming mga kababayang frontliners,” Bahaghari Kapit Bisig Transport Cooperative Operations Manager Maria Veronica Ornedo Del Mundo said. (Although we are aware of our cooperative’s limited resources, we still wanted to provide support for our frontline workers.)
She pointed out the struggle of health workers as they go to hospitals because of the suspension of public transportation.
Hospitals in Cebu City also tapped transport cooperatives to provide transportation for their health workers. Cebu People’s Multipurpose Cooperative, in partnership with Cebu Doctor’s Hospital and Chong-Hua Hospital, has been offering free transportation within Cebu City and Mandaue City, Cebu.
However, public service does not end within the eight working hours of the day. Frontline workers in Maramag, Bukidnon who work graveyard shifts were reportedly experiencing difficulty in securing rides home after work. To cater to this dilemma, the Bukidnon Transport Multipurpose Cooperative (BUKTRAMCO), in coordination with DOTr, LTFRB, and OTC, have offered free rides to night-shift health workers of the St. Joseph Bukidnon Hospital.
Apart from road-based transportation, a TC in Aklan has been utilizing motorized boats. The Caticlan-Boracay Transport and Multipurpose Cooperative (CBTMPC), in partnership with their LGU, has been providing free transportation to Boracay residents.
Overall, the Office of Transportation Cooperatives has recorded 31 accredited TCs across several regions in the Philippines which have provided free transportation for frontline workers and members of their own communities. To date, 24 of these TCs are continuously offering their services to the public daily.
Public service during these times means more than just providing for those in need. It also entails a commitment to prevent the spread of the virus around their communities. Thus, these TCs also operate with caution by providing protective gear for their drivers, imposing social distancing for their passengers, and sanitizing their units regularly.
Pasig Mandaluyong Quiapo Transport Service Cooperative (PAMAQODA) Member Technical Adviser David Garcia said that they make sure all their passengers and drivers wear face masks and practice social distancing as they service health workers from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and San Lazaro Hospital.
“50% lang ng capacity ng bangka ang sinasakay namin, halimbawa kung 30 ang seating capacity, 15 or 16 lang sinasakay namin para ma-obserbahan ang social distancing,” CBTMPC Operations Supervisor Angelo Quinton said. (Only half of the boat’s passenger capacity is allowed to practice social distancing. For example, if 30 is the seating capacity, 15-16 passengers are allowed.)
He also added that each passenger’s body temperature is checked before boarding.