Poe: Govt should hire jeepneys compliant with safety protocols to ferry workers
MANILA, Philippines — To augment the fleet of public utility vehicles (PUVs) that will shuttle commuters to work in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ), Senator Grace Poe is urging the government to hire traditional jeepneys compliant with safety protocols.
“Malinaw na walang masakyan ang maraming pasaherong bukod sa nagtitiis sa kakahintay sa mahabang pila ay hindi rin siguradong makakarating sa kanilang pupuntahan,” Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, said in a statement on Wednesday.
(It is clear that there is a lack of public transportation for our commuters who, aside from enduring long lines, are not even sure if they will be able to reach their destination).
The senator suggested during plenary deliberations on the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act Tuesday night that an amount be set aside for the hiring of additional shuttles, provided that clear guidelines are set.
She said the jeepneys should bear markers and have partitions and should observe other health and safety measures to ensure social distancing and prevent the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
However, Malacañang said the deployment of traditional jeepneys on the roads is still “out of the question” for now.
But since physical distancing is crucial in averting the spread of the virus, Poe stressed that the government “should all the more provide transportation options given the limited capacities of PUVs that left thousands of commuters stranded and unable to go to work.”
The senator noted that since Metro Manila shifted into a less strict GCQ, only 90 buses were allowed along EDSA as against the 3,500 buses running pre-quarantine period.
With only 25 passengers per trip per unit, only about 20,000 passengers can be accommodated instead of the 250,000 before the lockdown, she added.
“A line on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) spending should state that it will prioritize the hiring of additional shuttles during our transition process into an eased quarantine,” Poe said.
Poe, likewise, urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to directly subsidize drivers and buses and jeepneys that will be allowed back on the road during the transition period.
“This will enable PUV drivers to comply with social distancing measures without sacrificing financial viability,” she said.
Meanwhile, the senator asked for the immediate release of promised subsidies to PUV drivers and operators, who were left without income during the lockdown.
She cited data from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) which showed that some 435,619 PUV drivers in Luzon will get financial aid from the government amounting to P5,000 to P8,000 each.
However, many of them have yet to receive assistance, she said.
Poe, in her statement, quoted a driver from Quezon City, who reportedly did not receive any aid despite applying with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and LTFRB.
“Simula po noong mag-lockdown, wala kaming natanggap na ayuda. Iniintay po namin yung ayudang manggagaling ng LTFRB. Lahat po lista-lista, wala kaming natanggap, kaya hirap na hirap kami sa buhay,” driver Ando Culayo was quoted as saying.
(Since the beginning of the lockdown, we have yet to receive aid from the LTFRB. Even if we had ourselves listed, we have not received assistance, we’re really struggling).
Under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, Poe wants the DOTr to maintain the status quo or “no phaseout” on PUV modernization to prevent mass displacement.
She also pushed for the inclusion of the DOTr’s mandate to guarantee a master list of qualified transport service workers to implement the wage subsidies and cash-for-work program and to expedite the distribution of the first and second rounds of subsidy under the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act.
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