Iloilo mayors frown on eased distancing in public transport


Several mayors of towns in Iloilo province are opposing the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) decision to decrease the physical distance in public transport, which they fear can trigger a surge in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases.

Physical distancing, also called social distancing, in public vehicles was reduced to 0.75 meters from the original one-meter gap beginning Monday to help the public transport sector recover from a slump caused by Covid-19 lockdowns since March.

The separation would be further adjusted to 0.5 meters by September 28 and to 0.3 meters by October 12. (

Reducing distancing among commuters to increase ridership is inconsistent with the minimum safety standards that authorities have been teaching the public for six months now, according to Igabaras Mayor Jaime Esmeralda.

Esmeralda, a physician, warned the relaxation of physical distancing measures could further increase the transmission of the virus.

Concepcion Mayor Raul Banias, also a medical doctor, expressed apprehension that relaxing the physical distance requirement could place people at risk of contracting the infectious disease.

Why would the government allow them to forego this safety measure when taking public transportation when the threat of Covid-19 still persists, he asked.

For her part, San Enrique Mayor Rosario Mediatrix Fernandez emphasized the importance of health and life of her constituents.

The national task force is only circumventing existing health protocols due to economic issues, according to her.

“[They] should set their priority straight. I think everything else will be nothing without health and life,” added Fernandez.