By: Mariejo S. Ramos
Motorcycle ride-hailing platform Angkas has committed to deploy 1,000 bikers to provide free rides daily to medical workers in 10 hospitals in Metro Manila during the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
At the launching of the Angkas program in the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame on Friday, Angkas also donated 1,000 motorcycle barriers for the medical front-liners. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar received the donations.
All forms of public transportation are banned from Aug. 3 to Aug. 18, as the national government reverted Metro Manila and the nearby provinces to MECQ in response to health-care workers’ call for a “timeout,” to ease the pressure of rising COVID-19 cases on hospitals.
“While they call this a timeout, this is a time for us to reinforce and help our health-care workers,” Año said. “This does not mean they’ll be taking a break—their work continues and they will find it harder to get to work because of the lack of public transportation.”
GET THEIR MOTOR RUNNING Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Angkas operator George Royeca on Friday try out a motorcycle with a barrier set up by the ride-hailing platform, which will provide free rides to medical front-liners in Metro Manila while the capital is on lockdown. Looking on is Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar (left), commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
Eleazar identified the 10 hospitals whose front-liners may avail themselves of the free rides: the Philippine General Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Quezon City General Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center and Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital.
He said, “The hospitals that [the] DOH (Department of Health) [has] listed are in Metro Manila, but Angkas riders can also [transport] them (front-liners) to nearby provinces, especially those under MECQ, if that’s where they live.”
The PNP will distribute the barrier shields donated by Angkas to medical front-liners who use motorcycles to go to work, Eleazar said.
According to Angkas, the riders will be on standby at the partner hospitals at the end of the health-care workers’ shifts.
The Angkas service will run until Aug. 18, the end of MECQ.
Health-care workers in the provinces who object to the government’s plan to deploy them to Metro Manila should be “professional” and honor their oath to save lives, Malacañang said on Friday.
“Although I am a lawyer, if you are a professional, you should know what to do. As a doctor, as a medical professional, their job is to save lives,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
He added: “I believe that our front-liners will be true to their sworn duty.”
Roque made the remarks after some health-care workers and doctors who are part of the “Doctors to the Barrios” program opposed a plan by the DOH to pull them out of their communities to augment Metro Manila’s fatigued front-line workforce.
They warned that this deployment will put geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas at risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said, “We are doctors and we are working in government. We took an oath to protect the health of our country. We are heeding that, and we are giving that call to our Doctors to the Barrios, for them to realize that they are not only serving their communities, but the entire country, because we need you.” —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
IN PHOTO: Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Angkas operator George Royeca on Friday try out a motorcycle with a barrier set up by the ride-hailing platform, which will provide free rides to medical front-liners in Metro Manila while the capital is on lockdown. Looking on is Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar (left), commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA