On Monday, June 22, public utility buses, modern public utility vehicles, and UV express vehicles will return to Metro Manila roads with limited passenger capacity.
Provincial buses? Not so fast.
According to Department of Transportation (DOTr) consultant Alberto Suansing, "The LGUs' (local government units) permission for the buses to pass through their areas has to be secured. Unless this is given in coordination with the [Department of the Interior and Local Government], the operation of provincial buses would continue to be suspended."
Suansing also explained during the Laging Handa briefing that operators have to consult with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), taking into account the "challenges" of resuming public transport operations.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed it it will be up to the DOTr if provincial buses will join the still-outlawed jeepneys or the permitted public utility vehicles.
Earlier this month, a stranded single mother was found unconscious in Pasay City after days of waiting for a bus to Bicol. The death of Michelle Silvertino led Ako Bicol Representative Elizaldy Co to call on the IATF to reconsider the ban on provincial buses.
"With all due respect, the national government and LGUs must discuss, agree, and lay down clearcut guidelines for bus operators and commuters," Co said in a statement. "The goal is to allow stranded Filipinos to ride provincial buses while minimizing risks of potential COVID-19 infection."