Free rides for Metro Manila health workers

The second week of Luzon’s enhanced community quarantine opened with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) adding two more routes to the free shuttle service for health workers in Metro Manila for a total of 16 routes.

“From the three initial routes since the program began on 18 March 2020, it now has 16 routes. This means more health workers will be assisted by the department’s initiative,” the department said Tuesday, March 24.

The DOTr also said that the 15th route will have its pickup and transfer points at the SLEX Sucat Exit and Baclaran Market, catering to healthcare workers who want to be picked up or dropped off at the Medical Center-Parañaque, Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center, Olivarez General Hospital, The Premier Medical Center, Pasay City General Hospital, Adventist Medical Center, and the Philippine General Hospital.

On the other hand, the 16th route will have its pickup and transfer points at SM City San Mateo, the BFCT East Metro Transport Terminal along Marcos Highway, and Robinson’s Galleria.

It will cater to workers who want to be picked up or dropped off at the San Mateo Medical Center, St. Vincent Hospital, Immaculate Conception Hospital, Marikina Valley Medical Center, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, St. Anthony Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, and The Medical City in Ortigas.

The shuttle service’s scheduled hours are 5 a.m., 7 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m.

Likewise, ride-sharing firm Grab Philippines recently launched “GrabBayanihan,” which focuses on offering safe mobility solutions for healthcare workers, providing economic security to thousands of driver-partners, and providing access to daily essentials while safeguarding the wellbeing of everyone on the platform.

“More than a public health crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak has been a call for all sectors to band together for the common goal of providing meaningful services to the Filipino people,” said Grab Philippines President Brian Cu.

“For us at Grab, the last few weeks have been a testament to our innate ability to innovate for all and to use our platform to help our community endure this period of uncertainty and disruption,” he added.

According to the company, the GrabBayanihan Car service will provide a round-the-clock, free-of-charge transportation service for health care workers. Each car will ferry up to two healthcare workers at a time in accordance with the government’s social distancing guidelines.

Its volunteer driver-partners, meanwhile, will also undergo hygiene and infection prevention training, and will be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment to safeguard their health and well-being.

Grab also deployed around 50 GrabWheels e-scooters to the city governments of Manila, Quezon City, San Juan, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Marikina, and Pasig to aid health care workers and barangay officials in their short-distance commutes.

Shelters for frontliners

For frontline workers who choose not to go home to avoid possibly endangering members of their family, several shelters are being offered during the enhanced community quarantine.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on March 18 signed Executive Order No. 17 to help frontline workers in the city affected by the quarantine.

Under this EO, frontliners and healthcare workers in the district and national government hospitals in Manila can stay at Hotel Sogo (421 rooms), Eurotel (50 rooms) at Town and Country Hotel (60 rooms).

Vice President Leni Robredo, for her part, will be opening a free dormitory in Cubao, Quezon City for healthcare workers.

“[The dormitory] is open to health workers, medical practitioners, and other frontliners like security guards as well as those volunteering in programs focused on fighting the threat of COVID-19,” she said in a Facebook post.

Monetary compensation

On Wednesday, March 24, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a bill that grants him special powers to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) threat in the country.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act (Senate Bill 1418), the president is authorized to adopt several “temporary emergency measures” to contain COVID-19 as well as mobilize at least P200 billion to help over 18 million low-income families.

Duterte is also granted the power to provide compensation of P100,000 to public and private health workers who may contract COVID-19 while families of health workers who died of COVID-19 while fighting the outbreak will be given ₱1 million.

The law also ensures a COVID-19 special risk allowance to public health workers in addition to their hazard pay granted under Republic Act 7305.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will shoulder all medical costs of health workers in case of COVID-19 exposure or any work-related injury.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at

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