Sen. Grace Poe has urged the government anew to help displaced jeepney drivers earn as COVID-19 lockdowns continue to restrict public transport operations.
Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said the government shoud rev up its efforts to assist the thousand of jeepney drivers who have remained off the road since strict community quarantines to contain the pandemic were enforced in March.
"Jeepney drivers were among the first casualties of the lockdown, but appeared to be last to get help," Poe said in a statement.
"We cannot just wait until the virus disappears while hunger stalks the drivers and their families. They have needs for food, rent, and education of their children," she added.
Poe met on Wednesday representatives of transport federations to inquire about their situation and find solutions to their lack of livelihood.
She suggested that jeepney organizations, with the help of national and local government, could link up with private companies needing services for their businesses so that drivers could start earning.
She also appealed to utilize displaced public utility vehicles for their needs to deliver or purchase supplies, transport employees, and other mobility requirements.
Meanwhile, Poe reminded the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board about its commitment to allow traditional jeepneys back on the road, as she maintained that the modern jeepneys that were given permits to operate at reduced capacity still do not satisfy the demand of the commuting public.
"It is indisputable that the modern jeepneys on the road do not meet the demand of the commuting workers who brave the travel to help get the economy back on its feet,” she said.
She repeated that insisting the modernization program of public utility vehicles (PUVs) "is inhumane in this time of pandemic."
Poe said that jeepney drivers were among the sectors most affected by the pandemic.