Displaced PUV drivers hired to ferry frontliners, patients in Ilocos Norte

By Freddie Lazaro 

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – The provincial government of Ilocos Norte has provided alternative livelihood to some displaced public utility drivers (PUVs) by hiring them to ferry health personnel, patients, and other frontliners to places of work and treatment.

The provincial government has launched the “Libre a Pagluganan” program under the Metro Ilocos Norte council (MINC) campaign to give livelihood to PUV drivers rendered jobless by the strict quarantine implemented due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Jason Ligsay, one of the hired PUV drivers from San Nicolas town, expressed gratitude to the provincial government for hiring him as a driver for the free transport services amid COVID -19 pandemic.

“When they informed us about the MINC Program, we came immediately. We are truly thankful to the Provincial Government for we have nothing to earn daily, and our concern is responded through this free service,” said Ligsay.

“This free ride service is essential not only to us, drivers who will benefit from it, but also to all of our frontliners,” he added.

Aside from the subsidized diesel, driver-beneficiaries of the free transportation service also receive a daily wage of P340.00.

For Ligsay, he follows his designated route of Suba–Tangid–Laoag and vice versa every day, which he will ply until the total lockdown is lifted.

Other routes include Pasuquin–Laoag, Dingras–Laoag, Piddig–Laoag, Sarrat–Laoag, La Paz–Suyo, Caaoacan–Madiladig, and vice versa as well as selected sites in Badoc, Pinili, Currimao, Batac, and San Nicolas.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office have launched its Cash-for-Work Program for displaced daily wage earners.

Likewise, Ilocos Norte Tourism Office begins the distribution of cash assistance for its “pay now, work later” programs such as the Summer Tourism Continuity Program and Heritage Livelihood Continuity Program for tourism frontliners.