Despite the lifting of restrictions on jeepney operations, the government should not stop distributing cash aid to all of the country’s over 200,000 public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers who continue to suffer adverse economic effects due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
DUMPER PTDA Partylist Rep. Claudine Bautista made this appeal even as she thanked the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for giving the go signal for the return of jeepney operations recently.
Bautista said a big number of jeepney and taxi drivers have decided not to go back to work for various reasons that include fear of COVID- 19 infection and potential loss of income due to reduced passenger capacity.
Bautista, vice chairperson of the House Committee on Transportation, also lamented that many PUV drivers, especially jeepney, have not yet received financial aid from the government.
“The public transport ban, along with delays in the release of financial assistance, have greatly hurt PUV drivers and their families. It’s important for us to do everything in our power to make sure the needs of the PUV drivers and their families are taken care of,” said Bautista.
Before jeepney drivers were allowed to operate last week, Bautista issued a strong appeal to LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra to support her advocacy.
“This was the only way we could help save our constituents from experiencing further suffering. Thankfully, our request was heard and jeepneys are now allowed to operate again,” Bautista said.
The lady lawmaker has made another appeal to the Department of Social Welfare and Development not to exclude PUV drivers as recipients of the next tranches of cash assistance from the government mainly because they were already allowed to work again.
“Jeepney, bus, and taxi drivers continue to feel the economic impact of this pandemic. They still need our support,” she said.
The partylist lawmaker has led the distribution of financial assistance coming from the government and from DUMPER PTDA funds.
Last week, 201 taxi drivers in Payatas, Quezon City received P4,000 in financial benefit.
DUMPER PTDA distributed food packs to at least 35,000 drivers and their families nationwide during the enhanced community quarantine period.
“We were only given P5 million to be distributed nationwide. Hindi po iyon sapat para mabigyan lahat ng drivers ng kinakailangang tulong-pinansyal. Kaya po humingi ako ng karagdagang tulong kay Sec. Rolly Bautista ng DSWD para mas marami pa po tayong matulungan (This is not enough for all drivers who need financial assistance. That is why we are asking for additional support from Sec. Rolly Bautista of DSWD in order to extend help to more of them),” Bautista said.
Aside from food and cash assistance, some 15,000 drivers in Davao region received free accident insurance policies and P3,000 in cash support.
In line with her continuing efforts to help frontliners, Cong. Bautista made a Php1,000,000 cash donation, along with medical supplies and equipment necessary in fighting the new coronavirus, to the Southern Philippine Medical Center.
With support from her colleagues and friends, she also extended, in her personal capacity, additional aid to Davao region’s five provinces.