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By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Thursday, May 14, 2020
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7, Land Transportation Office 7, Philippine Coast Guard, Cebu Provincial Police Office, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Maritime Industry Authority and Philippine Coast Guard meet with Governor Gwendolyn Garcia on the expected restarting of public transport and inter-island travel now that the Cebu Province transitions from Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ). (Junjie Mendoza)

Public land transport and boat travel to the islands of Bantayan and Camotes will resume when Cebu Province transitions from Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

In her livestream report on May 13, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced she will meet with the operators of buses, mini buses, roll-on-roll-off (ro-ro) and passenger vessels today, May 14 in preparation for the resumption of their operations.

Inter-island routes involve travel from mainland Cebu to the Camotes islands via Danao City Port and to Bantayan Island via Hagnaya Port in San Remigio. 

However, strict border controls, sanitation protocols and social distancing will still be instituted.

“Dili ni ingon nga tangtangon na nato ang restrictions, duna lang gihapon ta’y mga protocol nga i-establish niini,” the governor said.

The resumption is based on the Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution No. 35 dated May 11 wherein under GCQ, public transportation and inter-island travel is allowed “within GCQ zones.”

In the meeting, fare rates will be discussed since these are expected to go up because of the reduction of the carrying capacity in observance of physical distancing.

Earlier, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 Director Eduardo Montealto, Jr. said that only 30 percent of the public transportation in Cebu will operate under GCQ. Special permit is free of charge and will be issued for the entire GCQ duration.

“If the need arises, then they will allow additional public transport,” he added. 

The LTFRB will be prioritizing public utility buses (PUB), followed by modernized jeepneys, and UV Express. Taxicabs will have to follow a week after, if the need arises.

Because public transport shall be operating in a limited capacity and social distancing will be strictly observed, an increase in fare is imminent.

“Sa tanan, 50 percent ra ang makasakay. So duna ta’y gamay nga increase sa matrix,” Montealto said.

For example, for ordinary (non-airconditioned) buses, the P9 fare will increase to P11 for the first five kilometers and the succeeding will be P1.85. For aircon buses, the rates will increase from P11 to P13 for the first five kilometers and the succeeding kilometer is at P2.20. This is based on LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2020-17.

The LTFRB 7 will also impose a “no-face-mask, no-boarding policy.” Violation to bus regulations carries a penalty of P1 million. 

Moreover, the opening of seaports to other provinces in the region will be agreed upon separately by the governors of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.

“Let’s be realistic, our economy can no longer take it. Ang gobyerno dili na kapadayon og sustinir ani. Kon magpadayon pa, mag-realign na pud sa budget. Imbis unta magpasemento sa dalan o para sa imprastraktura, ibalhin [ang budget] para maoy ipalit og bugas sa mga tawo. Dili na maoy angay mahitabo kon nagtinguha man ta nga molambo ang Sugbo,” Garcia asserted.

GCQ guidelines in the Province will be based on the input of Cebu's local chief executives to convene on Friday, May 15 in Balamban town.

Should the Inter-Agency Task Force grant Mandaue City its request to extend the ECQ, public transport continues to be stalled. With this, a temporary bus terminal will be put in place in Consolacion.

As Talisay City requested the same, the bus for passengers to the south will be located further beyond Talisay City.

However, Garcia explained that “since it is the Province that was placed under the ECQ, then it is the Province that may or may not approve the request of Talisay to be put back to ECQ. But this will be endorsed to the IATF.” (Eleanor Valeros)