THE chairman of the House committee on transportation has proposed to the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to adopt a “bakuna-for-ayuda” campaign for the country’s public utility drivers as they are among the most exposed to the dangers of the dreaded coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) and its variants.
Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, panel chairman, said public utility drivers are also considered as frontline workers and should be given utmost priority by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infection Diseases (IATF-EID).
To entice drivers who are still having second thoughts about getting their COVID jabs, Sarmiento said the DoTr can provide cash incentives or cash aid for those who have been fully vaccinated.
He said this “bakuna-for-ayuda” campaign will not only help ensure the safety of the drivers and their passengers but it will also provide them an additional lifeline in their daily struggle to make ends meet because of the pandemic.
Sarmiento said the DoTr can launch a nationwide “vaccination program” for PUV drivers which will be timed with the distribution of their cash aid or “ayuda” which can be sourced partly from the P3 Billion “Bayanihan 2” fund allotted under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2021.
According to Sarmiento, the service contracting fund that was allotted under the GAA is still available and should be utilized at the soonest possible time to help the public transport sector which is one of the hardest-hit because of the pandemic.
Just like the country’s doctors and nurses, Sarmiento said the PUV drivers are also important in the country’s fight against the pandemic as they are the ones who ensure that all of our medical and economic frontliners are transported quickly and safely.
“We will be hitting two birds in one stone if we do this bakuna-for-ayuda program. We will be able to provide financial help to our drivers and at the same time ensure that they get vaccinated. Our PUV drivers are one sector which needs to get vaccinated ASAP,” Sarmiento said.