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P8.6-B monthly aid for airline sector? Poe wants to prioritize daily wage earners, PUV drivers

/ 01:28 PM May 12, 2020

Sen. Grace Poe. Senate / PRIB Photo

MANILA, Philippines — After airlines companies sought for a P8.6-billion monthly subsidy from the government in a bid to endure the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Grace Poe underscored the need to prioritize the thousands of daily wage earners and public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers who are in a more vulnerable position amid the pandemic.

Speaking with reporters in a teleconference on Tuesday, Poe expressed apprehension on whether the government has enough funds to cover the needs of the airline industry to get back on its feet after months of travel restrictions triggered by the health crisis.

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Poe earlier led a hearing on the gradual resumption of mass transportation where Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (Acap) vice chairman Roberto Lim said the aviation sector would need a total of P8.6 billion in monthly subsidy from the government to sustain the industry in the wake of the pandemic.

“Yung subsidy sa airlines let me clarify…wala namang commitment pa ang gobyerno ukol diyan. Ang sinasabi natin, baka naman yung mga ibang fees na binabayad ng airlines ay pwedeng mabigyan ng discount lalo na yung sa CAB (Civil Aeronautics Board) o kung ano pang mga iba pang binabayad nila sa gobyerno,” Poe said.

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(Let me clarify that the government has no commitment regarding that. What we are saying is maybe we can give discount to the fees the airlines are paying especially CAB or the other payments they give the government.)

Lim also said that the Philippine airline industry could lose about $4.9 billion, or approximately P250 billion, until the end of the year due to the ongoing pandemic.

He added that 25,000 to 500,000 jobs in the aviation sector are also at stake.

“Pero para bigyan sila ng bailout sa ngayon, wala pang paguusap na ganyan at hindi ko alam kung anong kakayanin ng gobyerno,” Poe went on.

(But for them to get bailout at this time, no talks concerning that and I don’t know what the government can shoulder.)

The senator said it should be those who are in the vulnerable sectors that should first receive assistance from the government.

“You always have to help first the weakest member of society and although businesses are important because it provides jobs, the weakest link are really the daily wage earners and a lot of them are the ones that are affected by the shutdown…the public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers. So sila talaga dapat ang unahin. Imagine kung hihingi ng bailout [ang aviation sector] na P[8] billion e ang dami ngang mga drivers hindi pa nakakatanggap ng ayuda, kahit sino masasaktan,” she said.

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(They are the ones that should be prioritized. Imagine if the aviation sector asks for a bailout of P8 billion, a lot will be affected since many drivers have yet to receive assistance.)

“So siguro naman yung mga airline companes natin, pwede silang pumunta ng banko humiram ng pera…mas may malaking tiyansa sa mabibigyan sila ng tulay para makakuha ng pondo. Pero itong mga jeepney drivers na to, kanino pa sila aasa? Sa 5/6?” she added.

(So maybe our airline companies can ask the bank for loans… there is a big chance that they can get funds. But for the jeepney drivers, where will they ask for help? From loan sharks?)

JPV

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