By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe lauded on Tuesday the inclusion of public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and their families in the government’s social amelioration program amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Setting aside and providing immediate relief assistance for our public utility drivers and operators is a step in the right direction for this sector is equally hit hard by the enhanced community quarantine,” Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, said in a statement.
“With the halt in the operation of mass transportation, the drivers expect no other means to earn to provide for the needs of their families…Alam naman natin na kung walang pasada, walang kita. Isang araw na hindi makabiyahe, gutom na ang kanilang pamilya (We all know that if they don’t operate, they will have no income. Their families will go hungry if they miss a day of plying the road),” she stressed.
President Duterte, in his second weekly report to Congress on the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (RA 11469), said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) partnered with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and other agencies for the “speedy and efficient distribution” of the P5,000 to P8,000 cash aid for informal sector families.
The LTFRB has released its initial list of 4,175 beneficiaries of the emergency subsidy program. The list includes families of drivers of PUVs, such as jeepneys, UV Express, buses and point-to-point buses (P2P), taxis and school transport.
Drivers of transport network vehicle services (TNVS), and motorcycle taxis will also receive the financial assistance.
The LTFRB said it started on Tuesday, April 7, the distribution of the cash grant through the Land Bank of the Philippines.
According to Poe, a total of P2.66 billion was allocated for PUV drivers as part of the social amelioration package.
“We hope that in the soonest time possible, this cash aid will reach the homes of the drivers and operators,” she said.
Under the RA No. 11469, 18 million low-income households shall receive a cash aid worth P5,000 to P8,000, depending on the existing minimum wage in their respective regions.
The government is now looking to include middle-class families in the program as it decided to extend the imposition of the strict quarantine measures in Luzon to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.