On March 17, 2020, the government shifted its gears to fight CoViD19 and declared an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for the whole island of Luzon. People were instructed to stay home, business from several industries were put on hold, and public transportation was halted.
Questions from netizens came up, people were instructed to stay at home, but how about those who still need to go to work? Business from several industries were put on hold but not the business of saving lives, doctors and nurses play the most important role against this pandemic, they are the frontliners. Public transportation was halted but there’s still a need to move the frontliners to their respective hospitals. Some have their own cars to get to work but not many. As some of you may have seen already, many of them would have to take long walks.
During the Taal eruption the Philippine Army’s trucks were dubbed as “Trucks of Hope” being one of the most crucial tools to save lives, the trucks were able to evacuate people away from the dangers of an erupting volcano. Only a month after, another crisis strikes and the Philippine Army’s trucks might again prove their importance.
The next day the enhanced community quarantine was put in place, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt Gen, Gilbert I Gapay said in an interview with DZBB:
“Aside from the checkpoint operations, we also provided transport assistance starting yesterday (March 17) because we have monitored that there were stranded medical personnel and even doctors”
Aside from manning key entry and exit points around Metro Manila, the Philippine Army was tasked to provide one of the most crucial services it can offer during this crisis; bringing our frontliners to their work and taking them back home.
Around eighteen (18) trucks are deployed around the Metro to provide transportation to the frontliners. To be able to come up with a route, the Philippine Army had conducted surveys from different hospitals and was able to determine ten (10) routes strategically placed around NCR, based from the data gathered through the survey.
To support the transportation service and further extend its reach, a Facebook platform named LibrengSakayPH was created to inform Facebook users about the service and serve as a feedback mechanism to be able to continuously and accurately determine where our frontliners are and where our trucks need to be based on the inputs of the users on the page.
Through LibrengSakayPh, a collaboration between Globe telecoms Ph and DashboardPh was made. DashboardPh offered its platform as an extension, showing on its site the routes available through LibreSakayPh. Globe telecoms Ph gave the drivers mobile phones to be used as trackers to show the DashboardPh users and passengers in real-time where the deployed trucks are.
It has been nineteen (21) days since the deployment of the trucks and they have already served 18,681 frontliners. Many frontliners appreciated the transportation assistance and are relieved to know that there are trucks that would ferry them to their workplace amidst this lockdown:
There was one instance where a troubled man reached out to the LibrengSakayPh group and told them his situation. He is living in Cavite and works at Alabang. He was caught up when ECQ was implemented and couldn’t return home. The troops, really wanting to help, went out of their designated routes and schedule, and made an effort to bring Ronald back home.
Doing these on a daily basis have their own risks but that did not stop the troops from wanting to serve our people.
Before the spark of dawn, these troops prepare themselves on a rigorous task of going through a complex decontamination procedure and after, had to disinfect massive trucks, tires and all to prepare them for a whole day of roundabouts throughout Metro Manila.
All of these measures are being done to make sure that our frontliners are safe and at their best and before facing the battlefield and returning home to their families.
Time and time again the Philippine Army has been at the forefront in responding to several threats this country is facing but, this fight is different and a new breed of heroes arise. Although different in profession, Doctors, Nurses, Janitors, or Police, side by side with the Philippine Army, it would always be an Honor to serve the country, regardless of whatever Duty we have, showing in their own way a sense of Patriotism.
On one of the posts made in LibreSakayPh, One writes:
“Hangga’t tumatakbo ang sasakyan namin, our vehicles will be there to bring you home everyday until we are victorious over this virus”
If you are one of the frontliners that need to traverse a locked down Metro Manila, you may join our Facebook group and check the routes available here: LIBRENG SAKAY FACEBOOK GROUP