Biñan taps school dropouts for delivery service
It has been two years since Paulo Amurao, 21, stopped going to school. But to avoid being a “burden” to his parents, who sew and sell baseball caps for a living, he decided to look for a job during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I told my parents I’d give way to my sister [who is in] third year high school now. I’d still want to go back to college but maybe later under a different [degree],” Amurao said in a telephone interview.
Amurao and 20 other out-of-school youths were “hired” last week for the soft launch of Biñan Cares Delivery (BCD), a youth livelihood program of the city government of Biñan in Laguna province.
City legal officer Edward Arriba, who helped put together the project, said it was not meant to keep students from returning to school but to ease the perennial and national problem on school dropouts, which had been predicted to be worse than ever due to the pandemic.
It also aimed to help the city’s small businesses and food sellers struggling to promote their products online amid orders to stay at home, he said.
The Department of Education said that as of September, around 3 million students had yet to enroll this school year, even as their parents faced financial straits and difficulties in providing for distance learning.
With the P300,000 raised in 2019 through donations to the city’s Alay Lakad Foundation, the Biñan government bought bicycles and gears, the cheapest and easiest mode of transport to run an errand around the city.
It created a Facebook page where businesses, mostly homebased food sellers, advertised their products and customers booked a cyclist.
BCD charges a P30 delivery fee for the first 2 kilometers, 10 percent of which is remitted to the local government. Arriba said the money would be used to buy more bicycles and hire more young cyclists.
From bakeries and market stalls to food chains at shopping malls, around 250 establishments have signified their interest to join the project.
“We admit we copied [the idea] from [the more popular food delivery services], only this one is for a cause,” Arriba said.
It also follows the concept of “pasabuy” (a play on “pasabay” or asking someone to run an errand and “buy”) that emerged recently with most people restricted to their homes.
“I told them (program coordinators), it doesn’t matter how small or big I earn,” said Amurao, who expressed satisfaction with his new orange vest uniform when he delivered a bunch of fabric and floormats to neighbors in Barangay Platero last week.
Other cyclists were booked to deliver documents or pay utility bills.
Arriba said that of the 21 riders, five were women “whom during the interview, I had to ask myself if they could really handle long rides on a bike.”
He said the city did not want to discriminate any gender.
Unlike commercial delivery services, customers are assured of privacy since the government has a way to screen and manage its riders, Arriba said.
BCD also plans to create a computer application and vowed strict compliance by its cyclists to health and safety protocols to prevent the transmission of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“It’s like me being a front-liner. I’m not scared of catching the virus along the way,” Amurao said.
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