Poe asks gov’t to include ‘left out’ PUV drivers in distribution of SAP 2nd tranche

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020   •   1548

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Thursday called on the government to include public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers in the second tranche of the emergency subsidy under the social amelioration program (SAP).

In a statement, Poe said PUV drivers who have yet to receive assistance more than two months into the quarantine should not be left out in the distribution of the cash aid.

She noted that in the Executive’s latest report to Congress on the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, a total of 62,028 PUV and transport network vehicle service drivers have received cash aid out of the 90,000 estimated beneficiaries.

Poe stressed that the cash assistance should be given to PUV drivers whose livelihood has been affected by the suspension of public transport operations.

“There are more PUV drivers who are barely getting by because of the two-month lockdown, and we hope that government will come to their aid,” she said.

“We expect that the release of SAP’s second tranche to our vulnerable sectors, including drivers, will be more brisk this time, in the wake of the government’s move to send assistance instead through digital means,” she added.

The government rolled out its emergency subsidy program to help 18 million low-income households heavily impacted by the quarantine. Under the program, the intended family-beneficiaries will receive a two-month cash subsidy.

After its first tranche, the executive department raised the number of beneficiaries to 23 million to include those who are not recipients of any Conditional Cash Transfer program and not included in the initial list of beneficiaries but are qualified in the government’s guidelines.

Apart from the cash aid, Poe also asked for assurance from concerned government agencies that all measures are in place to avoid a spillover of commuters along highways in the face of social distancing measures, as the government gears up for the resumption of mass transportation.

She said transportation officials and other implementers should brace for the challenge of “enabling the movement of people without enabling the spread of the virus.”

“The influx of commuters at the train stations will unavoidably lead to long queues. Without proper strategy, this can compromise the safety of the public,” Poe warned.

The senator earlier asked the Department of Transportation to submit to the Senate a report on its strategic preparations to ensure order and proper enforcement of safety protocols once public transportation resumes operations.

With the reduced ridership due to physical distancing, Poe had said government assistance should be on hand to address the expected decrease in take-home income of drivers.

DOTr ready to defend recommendation to increase PUV passenger capacity

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is prepared to defend its recommendation to increase passenger capacity in public transportation, road, and rail.

In a statement released on Tuesday (October 26), DOTr Asec. Steve Pastor said the Department has submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) its formal position paper on the increase in passenger capacity for public transport.

“Nakapag-submit na po ang road sector ng formal position paper na i-increase ang seating capacity from 50% na para po sa amin, kung masusunod ang Kagawaran, ay pwedeng maging 100% based on medical literature that is available. At the same time, we are ready to defend our position to IATF this Thursday,” he said.

The recommendation to increase passenger capacity in public transport aims to help drivers and operators amid the pandemic and the continued increase of fuel prices.

The DOTr’s proposed passenger capacity increase in public transport, with a pilot run in Metro Manila, is anchored on the following arguments:

1. Metro Manila is now under Alert Level 3, which allows for more businesses to open, and more people going out, which resulted to greater demand for public transport. Studies have shown that reliance on complete face mask use and partial hand sanitizer use were proven enough to contain three very modest COVID-19 waves while preserving normal bus services. Other studies have also revealed that passengers in the high-risk zones (seats in the same row with an infected passenger and within 3 rows) had moderate but not significantly higher risk, and that “rigid” safe distancing rules are an oversimplification based on outdated science and experiences of past viruses.

2. The livelihood of public transport drivers and operators were severely affected with passenger capacity in public transport maintained at 50%. Increasing passenger capacity will mean a higher revenue for the public transport sector. This will be a welcome development considering the increase in expenses brought by increasing fuel prices.

3. Metro Manila is the ideal place to test the proposal considering that 81.4% of its population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition, public utility jeepneys and buses operating in Metro Manila are well-ventilated.

4. The DOTr had also conducted a rapid analysis of available data on COVID-19 cases (7-day average cases per 1 million population) and public transport capacity, which covered 10 countries (Philippine, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Australia, Vietnam, and Malaysia). It was found out that public transport capacity has no significant correlation with the number of COVID-19 cases

5. Evidence also suggest that high vaccination rate prompts an increase in allowed PUV capacity. AAC

DOTr to recommend increased passenger capacity in PUVs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will recommend an increase of passenger capacity in public utility vehicles (PUVs) as quarantine restrictions eased in the National Capital Region (NCR).

DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor on Monday (October 18) said the department will recommend the proposed passenger capacity increase to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Irerekomenda po ng Kagawaran ng Transportasyon ang pagtaas ng passenger capacity sa ating mga PUVs (The DOTr will recommend the increase of passenger capacity for our PUVs) to cope with the increased number of individuals using public transport due to the imposition of a more relaxed quarantine status,” he said during a virtual public briefing.

Pastor said that increasing the number of PUV passenger capacity from the current maximum capacity of 50 percent will not only help commuters but also PUV drivers and operators, as well.

“This will also address ang matagal na hinihiling ng ating mga kasamahan sa business sector na dapat mas mapalago (what our business sector is hoping for, to boost) economic activities. We can contribute to that through an increase in public transportation, and their capacity,” Pastor said.

The DOTr official added there is no exact figure yet for the passenger capacity but assured that the proposal to be submitted to the IATF will be based on both technical and medical studies. AAC

DOTr relaunches service contracting program for PUV drivers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines— The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday, September 10, relaunched the service contracting program (SCP).

The SCP aims to provide temporary livelihood to pandemic-displaced workers in the transportation industry as well as assist healthcare workers and Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs) with their daily commute to work through the “Libreng Sakay” program.

The initiative was approved under the Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Under the program, public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators will receive performance-based incentives weekly— based on the number of trips made per week, whether they have a passenger or not.

Meanwhile, the government intends to implement service contracting as a regular program to provide sustainable livelihood to transport workers, with the end view of enhancing efficiency and quality of public transportation.

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