The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday activated Oplan Biyaheng Ayos 2023 to intensify security and monitoring in transportation hubs nationwide for the upcoming barangay elections and All Saints Day or Undas.
Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista and Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Assistant Secretary Vigor Mendoza II inspected vehicles and facilities at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) as part of joint government efforts to ensure the safety and convenience of travelers.
The heightened alert status for land transportation agencies under the DOTr will last until next week, he said.
Also part of the inspection, Mendoza said, are random drug tests for bus drivers to ensure they are not under the influence of any illegal substance.
“We also advise our riding public to inform us of any misbehavior on the road. We have hotlines and they can even tag our office on Facebook and other social media accounts,” he said.
LTO regional directors, he said, have been instructed to intensify road-worthiness inspections on bus terminals nationwide.
In a separate statement, the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), another attached agency of the DOTr, said a task group would man the Transportation Operations Center 24/7 for coordination with stakeholders and government security agencies.
“The OTS also deploys auditors and inspectors in airports, seaports, bus terminals, and rail stations to ensure that transport operators implement and maintain adequate security measures to protect the traveling public from any untoward incident and acts of unlawful interference which may be committed by lawless elements during this peak season,” it said.
Similar to other frontline transportation agencies, the OTS canceled the vacation leaves of airport security screening officers to ensure adequate manpower at security screening checkpoints in all airports nationwide.
Earlier, the PCG, Maritime Industry Authority, and the Philippine Ports Authority — all under the DOTr — announced their participation in Oplan Biyaheng Ayos through the increased number of personnel in ports as well as intensified safety and security operations.
Frontline DOTr-attached agencies and government agencies like the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) also announced the temporary suspension of leaves and increased working hours to address the expected influx of both motorists and commuters.
The MMDA said on Friday it will allow provincial buses to pass through the EDSA Busway in anticipation of a high number of passengers coming to and from provinces for the village and youth council elections and observance of All Saints and All Souls Day.
MMDA chairman Don Artes said provincial buses will be allowed to pass through the bus lane from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning today until Nov. 6 to ensure smooth and continuous travel for provincial buses and make passenger trips comfortable.
Provincial buses from North Luzon can reach terminals in Cubao, Quezon City while those coming from South Luzon can stop at the PITX.
The agency is also suspending the number coding scheme on Monday, Oct. 30, the day for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE), and on Nov. 1 and 2.
The MMDA is deploying 1,400 traffic enforcers to manage traffic flow along EDSA and other major thoroughfares until midnight.
Traffic personnel have been deployed in several areas in Metro Manila, particularly in cemeteries, transport terminals, and major roads.
The MMDA Metro Parkway Clearing Group is also conducting clearing operations around cemeteries and removing road obstructions from the streets.
The DOTr said there are enough buses to transport passengers during Undas as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will continue to approve special permits to bus companies.
Bautista said the LTFRB has coordinated with bus companies to deploy additional bus units in anticipation of the influx of passengers at terminals.
“We will have more buses this Undas and BSKE,” he added.
LTFRB Officer-in-Charge Mercy Reynes said the agency has issued at least 770 special permits to bus companies as early as Oct. 20.
Reynes added that the agency will also issue on-the-spot special permits at the PITX for additional deployment of buses.
Meanwhile, AirAsia Philippines said it expects to carry more than 90,000 passengers during the observation of All Souls and All Saints Day
The budget airline said it will operate more than 700 domestic flights and carry over 90,000 guests from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1. This is 8 percent higher than the same period in 2022 with all domestic destinations averaging 90-93 percent passenger load.
To support the influx of guests, the airline will have 20 check-in counters and four customer counters as well as four self-check-in kiosks to facilitate contactless check-in, especially for those without check-in baggage.
“We would like to guarantee our guests of a smooth journey this holiday as they travel to their provinces and fly back to Manila,” Ricky Isla, AirAsia Philippines chief executive said.