SPECIAL PERMIT. Traffic enforcers check a passenger multi-cab in Tacloban City operating during the community quarantine. The Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said on Friday (May 22, 2020) that it has approved special permits of 486 units of public utility vehicles (PUVs) in Eastern Visayas to operate during the health crisis. (Photo courtesy of Tacloban Traffic Operation Management Enforcement and Control Office)

TACLOBAN CITY β€“ The Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has approved special permits of 486 public utility vehicles (PUVs) in Eastern Visayas to operate during the community quarantine.

The number of approved permits as of May 21, is just a fraction of the over 5,000 PUVs and tourist transport service providers allowed to operate before the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

In a virtual press briefing on Friday, LTFRB Eastern Visayas transportation development office chief Veronica Reposar said they have to set limits on the number of PUVs on the road since the region is still under modified general community quarantine.

β€œIt takes time before we issue a special permit through online application. Some have been submitting unclear copies of documents while some have outdated registration with the Land Transportation Office. We have to consider a lot of things in our evaluation,” Reposar said.

The LTFRB regional office in Palo, Leyte has been accepting applications for permit online beginning May 5. Priorities for the issuance of the special permit are vehicles owned by transport cooperatives.

Under the new normal in public transportation, Reposar said strict boarding protocols like mandatory wearing of face masks for the drivers, conductors, and passengers, physically-distanced sitting arrangements, regular disinfection of bus units, and no physical contact policy especially in paying the fare.

The Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (IACT), composed of the LTFRB, Land Transportation Office, Highway Patrol Group (HPG), and traffic enforcers of local governments, is now monitoring violations of the strict travel protocols.

Violations of the protocols, according to LTFRB, would be treated as a breach to the terms and conditions of the franchise that carries a penalty of PHP5,000 for a first offense, PHP10,000 for a second offense, and PHP15,000 and possible suspension or cancellation of franchise for the third offense.

Violators will be charged with the violation of Republic Act 11469 to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which has a PHP10,000 minimum and maximum PHP1 million penalties, and not more than two months of imprisonment or both. (PNA)