P2.6 B in proposed Bayanihan 2 to assist transport businesses, PUV drivers

The House Committee on Transportation expressed hope that the P9.5 billion funds allocated to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 will be spent according to its purpose.

A total of P2.6 billion of the P9.5 billion will be used to assist “critically impacted businesses” in the road, aviation, and maritime sectors, including subsidy for affected public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers. 

Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento called on DOTr officials to ensure proper disbursement of the funds.

“We wanted to make sure that the funds for Bayanihan 2, I think this is only up to December, so we wanted to make sure that the entire funds can be utilized, if ever the contract will be awarded, it can be pushed forward,” Sarmiento said during the panel’s virtual meeting on the DOTR’s plans and programs under the Bayanihan 2, which is now awaiting President Duterte’s signature.

“We wanted to make sure that once this will be signed into law, we don’t want to have the sad experiences we had during SAP1, the social amelioration program. We should have a system and we don’t want the drivers lining up on the streets, which is a pitiful scene,” he said.

The House leader sought a “systematic, and orderly procedure” in disbursing the funds. “Once we disburse and utilize the fund, it should  be properly audited, went through all the process as mandated by our Constitution,” he stressed.

During the virtual meeting, DOTr Undersecretary for Finance Gary De Guzman apprised the Sarmiento panel that the P9.5 billion allocation for the DOTr under the Bayanihan 2 was divided into “three major activities” – P2.6 billion for assistance to critically impacted businesses, P5.6 billion for service contracting, and P1.3 billion for the installation of 644 kilometers of bicycle lanes all over Metro Manila.

“They proposed to subsidize the airlines, which is critically impacted during the pandemic, for waiver of airport fees and charges, landing fees and so on. They plan to subsidise it and then the money that they will be getting from Bayanihan 2 bill, will be for paying the airport authorities so that they will not lose revenue as they need to maintain their facilities,” De Guzman told the Sarmiento panel.

“For maritime, the PPA (Philippine Ports Authority) is also planning to waive some of the charges for our RORO operators, shippers. And then from the money that we will be getting, we will be paying PPA,” he added.

For the road sector, it was DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor presented the agency’s plans and projects funded under the Bayanihan measure, which include a fuel subsidy and/or cash assistance to PUV drivers.

The DOTr official said that under the agency's P5.6 billion “service contracting” initiative, public transport drivers will provide services based on a plan prepared by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and agreed upon by the operators. The plan will prescribe a level of service, for example, the headway, operating hours, compliance with the government's heath protocols, among others.

“In return, the driver will be paid with an agreed amount per vehicle kilometer traveled during a specified period, and at the same time, retains all revenue from the fare collection. The program will be able to provide guaranteed revenues to our transport industry regardless of the passenger demand which was the intention of this law as spearheaded by your committee, and that the total budget now is P5.580 billion,” Pastor said.

On the creation of a bike lane network in Metro Manila, the DOTr official said they recently signed a joint administrative order with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Health (DOH) to provide a design standard as well as the specific bike lane network.

He noted that P1.3 billion has been earmarked for the establishment of the bike lane network.