FORMER Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. urged the national government to provide more assistance to transport workers who are still reeling from the devastation of the COVID-19 on their livelihood.
“Mobility is the key to national recovery from the economic crisis triggered by the 2019 coronavirus pandemic. The delivery of goods and services hinges on an efficient and reliable public transport,” he said.
Marcos 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 transport sector. Ang ating tinutukoy rito ay ang mga tsuper ng jeep, driver ng mga taxi, at yung mga pedicab drivers na araw-araw kailangang kumayod para sa kanilang pamilya,” he said.
A spokesperson from the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide said recently that his organization 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.
The former senator also said the service-contracting program should continue to supplement the reduced income of PUV drivers. Some drivers reported they’re only earning a measly P250 after a hard day’s work.
“Maganda ang layunin ng programang ito at dapat lamang na ipagpatuloy ng pamahalaan dahil may mga tsuper na nagsasabing bumaba sa P250 kada araw na lang ang kita nila kapag bumibiyahe,” he added.
Marcos also appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Diseases to increase the seating capacity in PUVs to allow drivers and operators to recoup their losses since passenger numbers are still weak even as the country slowly reopens.
“Sana ay ikunsidera rin ng IATF na taasan ang kapasidad ng mga pasahero sa mga Public Uility Jeeps (PUJs). Ayon sa nakarating sa ating impormasyon, para makabawi sa krudo at gastusin sa isang biyahe, kailangan umabot sa sampu ang pasahero kada biyahe. Pero sa ngayon pumapatak lang sa 6 to 8 na pasahero ang naisasakay nila dahil sa mga restrictions,” he said.
Echoing the call of trade, industry, and economic officials as well as big business organizations, he also urged the government to ease restrictions among transport workers as they would play an essential role as the country’s economic reopening picks up steam.