Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Sunday, Oct. 11, urged the government to allow the resumption of motorcycle operations gradually to expand the transport options of millions of workers and restore the livelihood of thousand Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recto said such “job-creating” public service “would not cost the government a single peso,” especially at a time when many sectors are looking at the government for bailouts.
“This is an option that does not need any[thing] except the go-signal to operate again,” Recto said in a statement.
“Airline fleets are mostly grounded, and the few flying are cruising on the dangerously low altitude of funds. In contrast, motorcycle taxis are ready to ferry people to work at a moment’s notice without need for a government financial push,” he said.
The senator pointed out that allowing even just one motorcycle taxi driver to operate again is one social amelioration package (SAP) beneficiary off the list.
“Wala rin silang hinihinging Christmas bonus. Ang simpleng hiling ay makapasada muli, para hindi mapait na Paskong tuyo ang kanilang sasapitin,” Recto stressed.
(They’re also not asking for a Christmas bonus. Their simple wish is to be able to work again so they won’t suffer during Christmas.)
Recto said the government should make sure that motorcycle taxis that would be allowed to ply the road again should meet the necessary stringent health and safety standards against COVID-19.
“This part is non-negotiable. If barriers, face masks and face shields, [and] disinfected helmets are necessary to protect riders and drivers, then these should be made mandatory,” he said.
Recto reiterated a safe public transportation is key to restarting an economy that the pandemic has flattened.
“Transport is in the league of treat, track, and trace. Breadwinners have to earn. They have to go to work in safe transport which does not give space for coronavirus to hitch a ride,” he said.
“Maraming trabahante ang napilitang mag-resign dahil walang masakyan. O kung meron man, matagal ang commute dahil kulang ang maaaring masakyan,” he pointed out.
(A lot of workers were forced to resign because of lack of transportation options. In some cases, they find it hard to commute because there isn’t enough transportation for them.)
Recto said this corresponds to the 27.3 million jobless Filipinos as reflected on the latest survey of a Social Weather Station (SWS), which showed that the national adult joblessness rate soared to 45.5 percent of the labor force in July.
“One culprit is the lack of transportation. We’ve given too much focus on ease of doing business for corporations. We should also find ways on how there can be ease of going to work for employees,” the lawmaker stressed.