BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia issued Executive Order No. 52 Thursday revoking the requirement of the use of non-permeable or plastic/acetate barriers for all public transportation in the City of Bacolod.
The order said that on October 30, Mark Steven Pastor, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure, announced that they had approved the removal of plastic barriers in public utility vehicles effective November 4.
The DOTr reasoned that there are no medical findings that plastic barriers can effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19, rather the virus could even stick to them, it said.
The Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) had earlier issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-017, Section 8b of E.O. 35, series of 2020 requiring all public transportation within Bacolod City limits and those entering its territorial jurisdiction to adopt measures such as the use of non-permeable transparent/acetate barriers to ensure social distancing mainly by serving as protective barriers between passengers.
This came after the Office of the President issued Proclamation No. 1218 on September 10 declaring the extension of the State of Calamity throughout the Philippines for a period of one-year effective September 13, 2021 to September 12, 2022 upon the expiration of the previous Proclamation No. 1021 on Sept. 12 this year, the reason among others, is that the number of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths continue to rise despite efforts and interventions to contain the same.
Meanwhile, Emergency Operations Center-Task Force executive director Em Ang said they have no objection to the directive of the DOTr to remove plastic barriers in public utility vehicles for as long as passengers wear face masks and face shields, which should be enough protection for them.
Ang said there have been numerous studies that proved the effectiveness of protection that face masks and face shield can give. But there has been no study as to the benefit or the effect of using plastic barriers.*