By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senators on Wednesday raised anew suggestions to speed up and expand the assistance for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Grace Poe proposed that the government tap money transfer services to expedite the distribution of the emergency subsidies to PUV drivers and operators displaced by the suspension of mass transportation.
“Pwedeng kunin ng mga organisasyon ng PUV drivers ang pangalan at account number ng kanilang mga miyembro, at direct deposit na ang pera sa account nila,” Poe said.
(PUV drivers’ organizations could collate the names and account numbers of their members, so money can be directly deposited into their accounts.)
The chair of the Senate committee on public services said this would be a “user-friendly” way to make sure that the beneficiaries receive the cash aid.
“Digital cash transfers should be maximized for quicker response, especially in this time of pandemic which requires social distancing,” she said.
Poe lamented that thousands of PUV drivers are still left without income nearly two months into the COVID-19 lockdown.
President Duterte, in his May 11 report to Congress on the implementation of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, said that of the 90,000 target beneficiaries in the Metro Manila, only 40,418 PUV and transport network vehicle service drivers have so far received cash aid under the social amelioration program.
Poe reiterated that daily-wage earners and those who lost their jobs should be prioritized in the government’s assistance programs.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, said the government could use its savings from the subsidy to cover informal sector workers who have been disqualified from the emergency subsidy program.
“Tingin ko kakayanin, dahil doon sa diskarte ngayon na nagkaroon ng mga probinsiya, if I am not mistaken, 37 provinces and I think 17 cities ang binigyan ng green rating, ‘di ba?” Sotto told reporters in a teleconference, referring to the executive department’s decision to discontinue granting subsidies to areas under general community quarantine.
(I think this can be done, because according to the strategy adopted by the provinces, if I am not mistaken, 37 provinces and I think 17 cities were given a ‘green’ rating.)
“Therefore with the limited resources available to government, those resources that can be saved from the second tranche can be used for this necessity na kailangan natin for the drivers of the PUVs, para makasama sila roon (so they will be included),” Sotto said.
Mass transportation has been suspended Metro Manila since President Duterte declared an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon last March. Starting May 16, Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu City will be placed under a modified ECQ.