Renewed calls to prioritize public transport were made online following a report about an agency’s request for students not to go to school “too early.”
In a report by ABS-CBN’s Jacque Manabat, the Land Transportation Office asked the public to not go to school “too early” as a supposed preventive measure against road accidents.
“LTO asks public not to go ‘too early’ at school so that they would not put the children at risk of getting hit by a vehicle on the road,” the report on Twitter reads.
The agency also reminded parents and guardians against overloading tricycles to ferry school children to school.
“The agency also reminded parents/guardians to avoid overloading tricycles,” the tweet said.
A correction was later added which reads: “Correction: The agency also reminded parents/guardians to avoid patronizing overloading tricycles to convey schoolchildren.”
Two videos that showed parents and guardians crowding the entrance of President Corazon C. Aquino Elementary School in Quezon City at 10:30 a.m. of August 22 also accompanied the report.
First day high.
Schoolchildren with parents:guardians crowd the entrance of President Corazon C Aquino Elementary School in Quezon City at 10:30am, hours before the next class shift at 12:10pm. pic.twitter.com/BLn9zjWG7V
— Jacque Manabat (@jacquemanabat) August 22, 2022
The report later caught the attention of some concerned Filipinos on social media.
‘Pedestrians, commuters first’
A Facebook group called “Commuters of Metro Manila” and other Filipinos found LTO’s request to students as “ridiculous” given that it was the first day of the return to face-to-face classes amid the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Other Filipinos via the online forum Reddit criticized LTO for its remark.
They cited heavy traffic as the reason why children and their parents leave early for school and work.
“Alam mo di naman aalis ng maaga ang tao kung hindi traffic eh. Ang catch pa niyan eh napaka erratic ng traffic sa atin, kaya kailan laging may allowance just in case mas traffic than anticipated,” one Redditor said.
Greenpeace Philippines also joined in the calls of Filipinos for accessible transportation options and safer streets for children.
“Sana ay nakauwi ang lahat nang ligtas. As the youth learn to navigate the post-pandemic school life, our gov’t must also LEARN from past mistakes and strive in providing citizens accessible transportation and safer streets,” the organization said.
Eksena sa uwian ng mga estudyante kagabi 🥺 Sana ay nakauwi ang lahat nang ligtas.
As the youth learn to navigate the post-pandemic school life, our gov’t must also LEARN from past mistakes and strive in providing citizens accessible transportation & safer streets. #BetterCities https://t.co/lSSFW5iXgN
— Greenpeace Philippines (@gpph) August 23, 2022
The video that the organization reacted to was taken by photojournalist Jilson Tiu.
It showed a long line of students waiting for a ride to get them home after their class ended.
The clamor for safer streets, improved public transport, and other public spaces strengthened when the pandemic hit the country.
August 22, meanwhile, marked the first day most schools resumed their traditional or face-to-face learning after two years of distance learning due to the COVID-19 crisis.
By November the government expects all schools to fully return to onsite classes.