New abnormal

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    ‘There are other regulations that we think stretch the State power of quarantine over the population.’

    FROM the loneliness of her room at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, opposition Senator Leila de Lima has been judiciously following most aspects of the Duterte administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In De Lima’s estimation, the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) in charge of fighting the disease has been remiss in handling several transportation-related issues.

    Yesterday, the lady senator slammed the government for insisting on the implementation of the Jeepney Modernization Program and the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act at a time of a COVID-19 pandemic. She believes these moves are ill-timed.

    De Lima is referring to the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) move to phase out old units of jeepneys with the goal of making the country’s public transport system efficient and environmentally friendly by 2020.

    The Motorcycle Crime Prevention law, on the other hand, mandates motorcycle drivers to use bigger, readable and color-coded number plates and markings to secure and safeguard the public from motorcycle-related crimes.

    The senator said implementing these policies while the government is trying to ease transport restrictions under general community quarantine “will bring more suffering to many of our countrymen.”

    “Clearly, the prescribed penalty for the violation of the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act is too harsh for them. Imagine: they can be jailed for six months to six years and pay a P50,000 to P100,000 penalty which is almost the price of a new motorcycle,” De Lima said.
    Some laws and policies on land transportation may have good intentions, but under the current public health emergency, these exceptions to the rules are worth considering.

    There are other regulations that we think stretch the State power of quarantine over the population. These are the ban on even a husband and his wife who are riding in tandem on a motorcycle as if couples do no coupling at home, with or without the pandemic. And then there’s that one in Mandaluyong City, where private motorists, driving alone in a private car, had to wear face masks that constrains their breathing. Both are punishable with fines to the tune of P5,000, and possible imprisonment.

    What a life we have under this new abnormal.