The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is reaching out to all concerned transport agencies, law enforcement, and local government units to act against the illegal smuggling of passengers amidst the pandemic. This call to action was brought about by a recent viral video showing a truck supposedly transporting passengers into the NCR Plus area.
The video which was reportedly taken in southern Luzon shows a group of passengers getting off a closed truck, with some not wearing a face mask or face shield. Once outside the truck, the passengers were then instructed to board several commuter vans which reportedly were to take them to other destinations inside Metro Manila.
It is important to note that the National Capital Region (NCR) along with nearby provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal have been placed under one bubble setup until April 11. This means that there are quarantine control points situated along the border only allowing authorized personnel to travel across these areas.
According to the DOTr, the illegal transport of passengers across the NCR Plus bubble supposedly starts with posts online offering transport services. This is done on social media sites, where a booking is made. Confirmed passengers are then picked up by a colorum or unregistered vehicle and are transported to their final destination.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade also stated that these kinds of illegal operations serve as vectors for COVID-19 transmission as there is no guarantee that the passengers are virus-free. Tugade also reminds the public that essential workers can still travel to their places of work inside the NCR Plus bubble through authorized forms of travel. He also added that these workers can also avail themselves of a free ride service offered by the DOTr for authorized persons outside of residence after the proper health screening.
The DOTr further states that it will continue to conduct regular monitoring of terminals and borders to prevent further illegal operations from happening.