Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Wednesday ordered rail systems under his agency to absorb Light Rail Transit 1 workers who were laid off due to decreased ridership brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hire qualified personnel to our rail lines and projects. Kawawa ang mga tao. Kung kailan pandemya, tsaka pa sila mawawalan ng trabaho (It's pitiful people are losing their jobs, especially during a pandemic),” Tugade said.
The Light Rail Manila Corporation, which operates LRT-1, said Tuesday that it would lay off some 100 workers by Sept. 15 due to a 90 percent drop in ridership.
The Philippine National Railways (PNR), Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), and the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) have been instructed to hire “qualified retrenched employees from LRT1,” the DOTr said in a statement.
“We must look into the possibility of absorbing them as quickly as we can. Huwag natin silang pabayaan (Let us not neglect them). It’s the least and most humane thing we can do for them at this time,” Tugade said.
Mass transportation has been suspended since March due to quarantine restrictions. Limited operations resumed in July to reopen the economy. However, operations were halted again once Metro Manila—along with Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan—shifted back to the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine until Aug. 18.