Grace Poe

Speed up release of pay to PUV drivers, operators

October 29, 2021 Marlon Purification 152 views

SENATOR Grace Poe urged the government to act with dispatch in releasing payments to certain transport operators hired under its service contracting program amid the pandemic.

“The service has been rendered. The funds are available. The operators and drivers must be paid what’s due them,” she said.

“Hirap na ang ating mga kababayan sa transport sector dahil sa pandemya, taas ng presyo ng langis at mahal na bilihin. Hindi na dapat dagdagan ang kalbaryo nila sa pagpapahintay sa bayad na dapat matagal na nilang nakuha,” Poe added.

The senator said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which implements the program, should keenly coordinate with the Land Bank of the Philippines to ensure proper crediting of the money to the payee drivers or operators without further delay.

“We expect our disbursing agencies to act faster and see the urgency of settling their payables to the drivers and operators, who depend on this income for their livelihood. Bawat oras na lumilipas ay matagal na paghihintay sa gitna ng kanilang kakapusan,” Poe said.

As more economic activities emerge with the easing of restrictions, Poe said more public buses, jeepneys and other public transportation will be needed to bring people from one place to another.

“Ito ang talagang Catch 22 – iyong mga pasahero, walang masyadong masakyan dahil punuan din iyong mga sasakyan na available ngayon. Pero iyong mga driver, wala namang insentibong pumasada dahil napakamahal ng gasolina,” Poe said.

Poe said the service contracting program should be able to augment the road-based public transport, especially as the demand increases with the reopening of more businesses and the looming face-to-face classes in some schools.

Delays in payment, underspending and other issues hounding its implementation should be addressed for more operators and drivers to trust and participate in the initiative.

Poe said several transport groups have aired their complaints about the unpaid services they have rendered under the program.

Some organizations of bus drivers informed that payables to their members have reached P18 million at the minimum.

Poe said the government must give a definite response to the operators on when they can get the payment.

The service contracting program was allocated a P5.58-billion fund under the Bayanihan 2 law, which expired on June 30 this year. To continue the program, it was earmarked another P3 billion under the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

In a statement on Oct. 25, the LTFRB said it has “distributed P2,289,506,007 from Sept. 13 to Oct. 23 from Bayanihan 2, while P539,672,859 from Sept. 13 to Oct. 23” under the GAA.

“We must put pedal to the metal in using the remaining billions under the program. There’s no room for sloth as our drivers struggle to find income and commuters jostle each other for the limited ride,” Poe said.