The Manila Times : BBM seeks more assistance for transport sector

5 October 2021

By Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times

FORMER senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Monday urged the government to provide more aid to transport workers still reeling from the effects of the pandemic on their livelihood.

In making the appeal, he stressed that mobility is the key to national recovery.

The delivery of goods and services hinges on efficient and reliable public transport, Marcos said in a statement.

He noted the disappointment aired by some transport groups which claimed that none of the 800,000 operators, drivers and transport workers received the allotted money meant to support them.

"Bigyan natin ng sapat na tulong ang ating mga kababayan na nagtatrabaho sa (Let us provide ample aid to our fellowmen working in the) transport sector," Marcos said.

"I was referring to the jeepney drivers, taxi drivers and pedicab drivers who need to earn a living everyday for their families," he said.

The Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) said recently that it was surprised to hear that there was P5 billion earmarked for transport workers.

Piston lamented that it should have been distributed to the workers in all modes of transportation, including buses, taxis, tricycles, and UV Express vans, who were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

According to a 2020 Commission on Audit report, only P59 million of the P5.58 billion fund allocated to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board was used for the service-contracting program to subsidize operators and drivers to ply their routes to serve those allowed to report for work.

Marcos said the service-contracting program should continue to supplement the reduced income of PUV (public utility vehicle) drivers.

"Some drivers reported they are only earning a measly P250 after a hard day's work," the former lawmaker said. "The objective of this program is good and must be continued by the government because some drivers said that their earnings decreased to merely P250 daily when they ply their routes."

Marcos also appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management on Emerging Infectious Diseases to increase the seating capacity in PUVs to allow drivers and operators to recoup their losses since passenger numbers are still down even as the country slowly reopens.

"According to the information reaching me, they need to have 10 passengers every trip to recoup their gasoline expenses," he said. "But at present, they are only allowed to pick up six to eight passengers due to restrictions," Marcos pointed out.