June 20, 2020 at 01:10 am
Darwin G. Amojelar
Motorcycle taxi service provider Angkas said Friday it had submitted to the government innovative solutions, such as using backpack plastic shields to ease the potential transmission of COVID-19 to passengers, once it was allowed to restart operations.
“We sent the proposal a few days ago. Our proposal is to create a study to make sure we arrive at the necessary protocols,” Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca said in a virtual press briefing hosted by Samahang Plaridel.
“What Angkas is trying to do is to cooperate with the government and see if we can find ways to create a series of measures on how to make it safer.”
One of Angkas’ solutions to prevent COVID-19 transmission is using a backpack plastic shield to limit the physical contact between the driver and the passenger.
Angkas will also require passengers to use their own helmets and face masks.
Royeca is optimistic that the government, particularly the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATF, will approve its proposal.
“The government response is good, and they are definitely looking at it,” Royeca said.
“We are proposing the limited use [of Angkas] because a full-blown operation is not possible at this time.”
In the same virtual forum, Jun Belizario, dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Public Health, said the Angkas shield could help because it would be an added barrier and similar to the face mask.
“The Angkas shield contributes to a number of measures. The intent is to diminish the transmission of COVID-19 and other diseases without a 100-percent guarantee because there’s no 100-percent guarantee—not even social distancing, face mask and hand washing,” Belizario said.
“The added layer of protection would help. The measures should minimize the fears and anxiety that you will get COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. We cannot wait for a vaccine to allow motorcycle taxis.”
Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo agreed with Royecan and Belizario that motorcycle taxis should be allowed soon as long as those complied with the health protocols set by the IATF.
“We reiterate our appeal. There is a strong public clamor to allow the operation of motorcycle taxis,” Castelo said.
But she said motorcycle taxis such as Angkas should follow health protocols such as testing its riders and regular disinfection, among other things.