With transport shut down, Robredo, citizens lead ‘libreng sakay’ effort for COVID-19 frontliners

March 17, 2020 - 6:44 PM
health worker in Valenzuela boundary
A Valenzuela health worker scans another Filipino worker at the McArthur Highway boundary of Valenzuela, Bulacan (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

Vice President Leni Robredo and several concerned citizens offered rides to employees who need to get to work as pubic transportation halted operations following the enhanced community quarantine directive.

The shutdown covered transport systems, buses, jeepneys and Transportation Network Vehicle Services such as Grab, Angkas and Joyride.

This new umbrella measure was declared after several commuters were seen unable to observe social distancing when they traveled to their respective workplaces in various parts of the metro on Monday.

Prior to the expanded quarantine, National Capital Region was the only region covered by the month-long confinement, starting on March 15 to April 14.

Social distancing is among the main preventive measures the government and health experts are suggesting to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

The enhanced directive missed the basic transport needs of Filipino workers employed in industries deemed as essential services, including health workers, when public transportation was suspended.

READ: Health workers walk to work, sleep in clinic as quarantine halts transportation

According to the new directive, only essential establishments providing basic necessities and activities such as food, water, medicine and other related services are exempted from the work suspension.

These include “public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, power energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities.”

Free rides to Filipino workers

Robredo then announced that her office will provide free shuttle services for these workers starting March 18.

“Starting tomorrow, the Office of VP Leni Robredo will provide free shuttle services for health workers and other frontliners. Routes, schedule, and other details to be announced later,” she said.

In a new post, Robredo warned against “malicious” Facebook posts claiming to provide shuttle services at a cost using her office’s name. She also attached screenshots of these posts.

WARNING: We are not hiring vehicles for our free shuttle services tomorrow. This is a malicious facebook entry which…

Posted by Leni Gerona Robredo on Tuesday, March 17, 2020


The Makati City government also announced that buses will be dispatched to serve doctors, nurses and other employees of its state-run hospital Ospital ng Makati.

Starting 2pm, buses will be dispatched to serve our OsMak doctors, nurses, and employees. Three buses will service the…

Posted by My Makati on Monday, March 16, 2020


Spoken word artist Juan Miguel Severo, meanwhile, also initiated a thread to help Filipino workers who were still required to report to work today, March 16, via the hashtag #INeedARide.

“If you’re a private citizen w/ car who’s willing to drop them off, check hashtag to see you can accommodate someone. Let’s do this,” Severo tweeted.

Former radio personality Therese “Gang” Badoy-Capati similarly launched a Facebook page for carpooling called #RockEdCarpool, initiated by volunteer group RockEd Philippines.

She also set up an online registration for drivers who are willing and healthy enough to connect with hospital administrators.

This initiative was also in coordination with Teddy Casiño, former Bayan Muna representative, who sought help from the public to help nurses of the Philippine Heart Center get to work.

He also offered to help doctors, nurses and other health professionals in the Makati area.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto and his team similarly offered transportation services to health workers and other workers reporting for duty using the city government’s vehicles within his jurisdiction.

He also temporarily allowed some tricycles to ply within the city, subject to quarantine protocols such as social distancing.

Justice department warned public against going outside

The Department of Justice warned that individuals who are not among those exempted by the new order can get arrested by merely going out to the streets, which backtracks the department’s previous assurance on public arrests and detention.

Justice Spokesperson Markk Perete said that such activities violate provisions in Section 9 of the Republic Act No. 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.”

Perete specified the following prohibited acts:

  1. Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern;”
  2. Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.

In an interview with ABS-CBN, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also said they already told mayors to disallow operations of tricycles, citing that other tricycle drivers may disobey the enhanced community quarantine rules.