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Solon bats for fuel subsidy, wage assistance to all PUV drivers

 

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

House Transportation Committee Chair Edgar Mary Sarmiento is pushing for fuel subsidy and wage assistance to all public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers who lost their income during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento (Edgar Mary Sarmiento FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento (Edgar Mary Sarmiento FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Samar lawmaker said a rescue package should be extended to the transportation sector during this time of pandemic.

“Willing po ako bigyan sila ng fuel subsidy kahit nga sana yung sahod ng driver dapat kasi dalawang buwan rin silang walang kita, hindi naman puedeng dadagdagan mo pa ang lugi nila. It is about time,” he said in a radio interview. (I am willing to grant them fuel subsidy, and even wage for driver because for two months, they have lost their income, you cannot add more to their income loss. It is about time.)

“I’ll lobby it out to the Speaker of the House and entire branch of Congress, Senate, and of course, the House of Representatives na bigyan sila ng subsidy (that they be given subsidy),” Sarmiento said

He expressed readiness to file a bill to ensure that the transportation sector be given assistance package.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) earlier said it is seeking to provide assistance to PUV operators by subsidizing 30 percent of their daily fuel consumption requirements to help them recover from economic losses.

In a virtual press briefing on April 30, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said they are “in deep discussions in coming up with an assistance package.”

Sarmiento even noted that the House of Representatives is pushing for an economic stimulus package for all affected sectors.

“Ina-address na po ng House ito. Meron po tayong tinatawag na economic package na pinaghahanda na kung saan tutulong ang gobyerno muna sa lahat ng sector ng transportasyon at alam natin na nalulugi ito. Hindi lang po dito. Sa ibang bansa yan din ginagawa nila sa nalulugi na negosyante,” he said. (This is being addressed by the House. We have a so-called economic package that is being readied wherein the government will help all sectors of transportation and we know they are losing income. We are not the only one doing this but other countries as well for the benefit of their losing businessmen.)

He said in this time of crisis, the government should act as “catalyst of change” and should be proactive in helping the affected sectors.

Tugade had earlier said they are also looking at implementing a lending program for PUV drivers and operators “with preferred arrangements and interest rates.”

Sarmiento reiterated the need for the DOTr to conduct a five-day dry run to ensure the readiness of the public transport in cities and provinces which will be placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) on May 16.

He proposed over the weekend that all Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF)- sanctioned public transports systems such as buses, trains, and tricyles for land transport, airplanes, and inter-island passenger vessels be covered by the dry run.

He said to ensure public safety, there is a need to test the condition of all the vehicles, trains, air crafts, and vessels that will be allowed to operate under the GCQ.

“We should do the dry run when the volume of passengers is still manageable and make all the necessary adjustments before we transition to GCQ. By then, I would expect the DoTr to have already adopted the best practices that run along with the guidelines set by the IATF,” Sarmiento said.

He said GCQ will definitely attract a huge volume of passengers due to the still limited number of public transportation.

He called on the DOTr officials to evaluate the payment of fares, passenger queues, crowd management, seating arrangement, and even proper outfit to ensure that there will be no complete breakdown of social distancing protocols that could lead to a second wave of COVID-19 transmissions.

“The DoTr should have a clear understanding of the volume versus capacity ratio and coverage of all modes of IATF-sanctioned public transportation,” Sarmiento said.

He said the DOTr should also look into the availability of operators who are willing to put their drivers at risk with a very limited number of passengers.

Sarmiento also noted that using “new normal” to describe the current situation is not acceptable, saying that what the country is experiencing now is “absolutely abnormal.”

“Our situation now should not be accepted as the new normal because we will fight and defeat this virus. This virus will not prevail over humanity, and life as we know it, will definitely go back to full normalcy once a vaccine is discovered. The more appropriate term should be temporary abnormality,” he said.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/05/04/solon-bats-for-fuel-subsidy-wage-assistance-to-all-puv-drivers/)

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