Resumption of bus trips from Metro Manila to Davao City approved

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 Sep) – Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT) manager Aisa Usop said that the operation of bus trips from Metro Manila to Davao City has been approved and could resume once special permits from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-Davao are issued.

Normally teeming with travelers bound for other areas in Mindanao, only a few passengers could be seen at the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal in Ecoland, Davao City at the start of the quarantines last March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

In a phone interview, Usop said the bus terminal of the city has always been ready to receive passengers from other parts of the country, with the health protocols and security measures in place.

“The LTFRB asked for my opinion if it’s okay for buses to travel to Davao. My stand was, the DCOTT terminal is always ready because we have amenities and facilities,” she said.

Usop added that LTFRB would coordinate with the offices of the City Tourism and City Health for the enforcement of more stringent health protocols at the bus terminal, which would adopt similar measures that have been enforced at the Davao International Airport in screening the arriving passengers.

“What is being implemented at the airport, the same will be done at our terminal. That’s for our own safety,” she said.

The city government requires swab testing for arriving passengers at the DIA if incoming passengers have no “negative” COVID-19 test result through reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) issued within 72 hours before their scheduled departure from the airport of origin.

Once the bus trips are resumed, Usop added that buses would board passengers at a limited capacity to maintain a one-meter physical distance between passengers – at most two passengers per row – and temperature check and foot baths would be put in place before boarding the buses, to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among passengers.

She said passengers would be required to wear face masks and face shields.

At present, she said the city government allows bus travel to other provinces within Davao Region and some parts of Caraga Region. But travels to cities of Butuan, Surigao City, and Tandag in Caraga have been suspended recently due to the implementation of lockdowns amid the rising coronavirus disease cases there, Usop said.

Mayor Sara Duterte previously said in her radio program that the bus travels from Manila have been permitted because the local government wanted to return to “normal” despite the outbreak.

She maintained that disallowing bus travel from the National Capital Region (NCR) is “not a sustainable solution” to address COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because there are more cases in NCR, ideally, we should not allow it but it’s not a sustainable solution to the problem of COVID-19. What we will do at the terminal will be the same as the airport – test and wait – and home quarantine,” she said.

As of September 29, the Department of Health reported a total of 309,303 cases with 252,930 recoveries and 5,448 deaths.

Of this total, the NCR, which reported 162,902, has the highest in the country, while Davao Region reported 3,135, the highest in Mindanao. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)