The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have teamed up to address the plight of public utility vehicle (PUV) workers–a sector that had been brought to its knees by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade had urged PUV drivers and conductors displaced by the pandemic to enlist for jobs that will be created under the various construction projects of the agency in connection with “Build, Build, Build”.
Among these is the estimated 2,000 additional jobs that will be generated by the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1 Project once it is finally up and running.
The PNR Clark Phase 1 forms part of the 148-kilometer North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project under the massive Build, Build, Build infrastructure modernization program.
Aside from this, Tugade noted the various other employment opportunities from railways, airports, roads, and ports projects that the drivers and conductors could take advantage of.
For the drivers who were lucky enough to have been allowed to return to their routes, the DOTr through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has been implementing the service contracting program.
Under this, the government provides payouts for the public transportation services rendered by PUV operators and drivers based on their kilometers traveled as well as their compliance with performance indicators.
The LTFRB said last week that over P738 million in cash aid were already disbursed to bus operators under the program. This includes the more than P223 million released for the EDSA Busway.
As for public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers, the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP) has received assurances that DOTr and DOLE would help them start up their own small businesses through DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood Program and Emergency Employment Program (DILEEP).
The move is consistent with DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III’s promise to work with other government agencies to improve the country’s employment situation amid the persisting health crisis.
Bello and Tugade are close friends and are among the top performers of the Cabinet, as identified by President Duterte himself.
FEJODAP, headed by its national president, Ricardo “Boy” Rebaño, had earlier sought the assistance of Manila Rep. Manny Lopez in bringing their concerns to the attention of the LTFRB, which is an attached agency of the DOTr.
Lopez, chairman of the Committee on Metro Manila Development, helped link up the transport sector workers with LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III, who immediately address their queries.
The LTFRB told the PUJ drivers that they can continue with the modernization program or consider other employment opportunities by availing of skills training with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).