The IATF is placing Metro Manila back under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in an attempt to arrest the surge in Covid-19 cases that health authorities fear may be caused by the more contagious and more deadly Delta variant.
ECQ is supposed to start on August 6 but already authorities have began setting up checkpoints to ensure only the so-called APORs, or Authorized Persons Outside Residence, are crossing into or out of the NCR.
While the NCR has been in and out of various levels of quarantine restrictions — ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, MGCQ, GCQ with Heightened Restrictions, etc—many remain confused over who are allowed to move around, what businesses, trades, and services can still operate and under what conditions.
Maybe because there seems to be a disconnect among the many departments and agencies of government, spokespersons of this and that bureau or office, this or that LGU, including Malacañang, about the guidelines and the interpretation of the guidelines.
Most of the time authorities seem slow in coming out with the final, final guidelines, even as social media is very quick to leak or post the guidelines before they are finalized and officially released, creating even more confusion.
As this piece is being written, many are still awaiting the final and approved guidelines for the coming ECQ in the NCR, with or without heightened restrictions. Many are loath to rely on past definitions and restrictions as past experience has shown, they may be new exemptions or new additions in the final and approved versions.
Whatever this is, one thing must be hoped for. People and communities in the NCR should be aware of and understand why ECQ is being put back in place.
There’s a more and dangerous variant of the Covid-19 virus out there and that everyone should do what they can to stop its spread.
Stay at home, if you are not an APOR. And if you are one, please take all the necessary precautions out there. Double mask if you can. Use faceshields properly. Wash hands often. Avoid crowds and crowding.
It’s annoying—maddening really— to see many people ignoring distancing rules in lining up to pay for groceries at the supermarket or in convenience stores. You won’t get through the process faster by getting as close as possible to the person in front of you.
Also here’s hoping that authorities clarify what kind of public transport is made available to the APORs, especially the frontliners, who must leave home to perform their important tasks, be it helping save lives, keeping food stores open, or just going out to by the essentials for the home.
Metro bike lanes
One thing that should help most APORs get to and from home and work under ECQ are the hundreds of kilometers of bike lanes authorities have put into place.
Perhaps to remind the public about the good it has done in encouraging the use of what is now called active mobility — just the use of bicycles — the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced that it has formally inaugurated the Metro Manila Bike Lane Network.
The country’s longest bike lane network is 313 kms long and cuts through the cities of Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City, Caloocan, Manila, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasay, Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Taguig.
The DOTr says the lanes measure from 1.5 to 3 meters in width depending on the road’s configuration, and features where possible or need white and green pavement markings, bollards bolted to the ground, bike symbols and signages, solar-powered road studs, and bike racks.
Many APORs have discovered the use of bikes during the early days of the first lockdowns, and have come to rely on cycling even as restrictions eased and public transport became more affordable.
Another piece of good news about bike lanes is that more are being planned including what they are calling the South NCR bike lanes. These bike lanes initiated by both the Departments of Transportation and Public Works and Highways will link Las Piñas, Muntinlupa at Parañaque.
Cashless fines payments
Many don’t know whether this is good or bad news.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced that it has partnered with Landbank of the Philippines and the CIS Bayad Center, Inc. in launching another cashless payment system for fines and penalties from violators of traffic rules and regulations.
Automating cashless payment of fines should make collection of fines and penalties faster, more efficient, and, under a pandemic, safer.
The MMDA reported that on a daily basis, the MMDA is receiving an average of 2,000 traffic fine over-the-counter payments through SM Payment Centers, Bayad Centers, and the MMDA Redemption Center.
MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said: “In the age of digitization, cashless payment offers convenience for the clients. With the use of mobile phones and laptops/computers, we can now pay anytime and anywhere without the need to travel.”
“Contactless payment means less exposure to the public (no contact transaction) and less possibility of acquiring the COVID-19 virus,” Abalos added.
Those who think that this is bad news may just be those who feel traffic violators should be made to suffer more for making it unsafe for others on the road. Make it difficult for them to pay their fines and endure the long lines, and the hours lost for ignoring traffic rules and regulations, they say.
Ford sold strong
The first half of the year proved strong for Ford Philippines.
It is expected that sales would be stronger this year after the hard lockdowns of last year.
Still the 84 percent growth in sales in the first half 2021 compared to the the same period of 2020 is impressive.
Ford reported selling 9,855 units in the first 6 months of year, mostly sales of the Ranger and the Territory.
Most impressive is the sale of the Territory which reached 3,323 units which Ford said helped it retain leadership in the small SUV segment with 56 percent market share.
Ford also sold 4,515 units of the Ranger, a 13 percent increase in sales in the periods compared. It sold 2,588 units of 4×4 Ranger variants for a 28 percent increase in sales.
“The Ranger and Territory’s strong sales in the first half of the year is a testament to its sustained popularity in the market, and we thank our customers for their continued trust and preference towards our pickups and SUVs,” said Michael Breen, Ford Philippines managing director.
Civic Type R arrives
The new Civic Type R is now available locally with refreshed exterior and mechanical updates. Highlighting the exterior tweaks is the new front grille design with a new thinner grille beam providing 13 percent larger air intake area that combined with the updated radiator core decreases coolant temperature by up to 10 degrees during high-demand situations such as driving on the track.
Enlarged wheel arches are adequately filled by 20” Berlina Black alloy wheels.
The New Civic Type R retains the 310hp 2-liter VTEC Turbo engine that also produces peak torque of 400Nm. Only a 6-speed manual tranny is available.
Mitsu’s fine June
June was a good month for Mitsubishi Motors Philippines, selling 2,933 units to retain a strong No. 2 position in the local automative sector.
The Xpander again led Mitsubishi sales with 794 units sold in June, a 62% increase from sales in the previous month and maintaining its status as the No. 1 selling MPV in the country.
Said Takeshi Hara, MMPC president and CEO: “We are very fortunate to receive such strong support from the market. We truly appreciate the trust and confidence that they show for our brand.
“We are also thankful for the amazing efforts that our dealer partners are making to reinforce the strong No. 2 position of Mitsubishi Motors. Our customers can trust that MMPC is committed to reciprocate the strong patronage by providing dedicated customer service.”