Villanueva pleads release of 'Bayanihan' cash aid for PUV, TNVS drivers

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva lamented the delays in the disbursement of the cash aid under the Bayanihan laws which was meant for public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and drivers whose livelihood have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Villanueva pleads release of 'Bayanihan' cash aid for PUV, TNVS drivers

At the budget hearing of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday afternoon, Villanueva pleaded with the officials about the plight of the public transport sector, particularly drivers of traditional jeepney, most of whom continue to be banned from plying their routes. Their situation has forced them to beg for alms.

"We have pointed out numerous times why the disbursement of assistance to affected PUV and TNVS drivers has been consistently slow. In fact, in our comments on the Bayanihan report we have consistently pointed out that the target is always 100,000 drivers only. We wrote a letter to the IATF and the DOTr but unfortunately, we didn't receive any response," Villanueva said.

"I am voicing out the concerns of my kababayans here in Bulacan. Last time we heard, the cash aid delay was allegedly due to the DSWD's speed in validating the masterlist given by the LTFRB. Nakakalungkot lang po kasi dito sa Bulacan, at least tatlong cooperatives ang nagsasabing wala po silang natatanggap na kahit ano since the lockdown started," the senator continued.

Villanueva likewise expressed his dismay over the inability of the agency to provide the committee with actual figures of the impact of the pandemic on the operations of the transportation industry, particularly the fate of PUV drivers who have yet to resume work due to the community quarantine restrictions.

"You mentioned that about 77,690 PUVs have been already allowed to operate in Metro Manila, but the universe is at least two million. We need to identify these drivers. Namamalimos na nga po sa kalsada. Dismayado po tayo na hindi natin alam ang bilang ng buong transport sector. Ilan po ba talaga ang nakabalik na? Kasi kung hindi po natin alam ito, paano po natin sila matutulungan? I think that's a very basic question that needs answers," he said.

Transport officials assured the lawmaker that the department was prepared to roll out the cash assistance program under the Bayanihan 2, but that they were still waiting for guidelines from the budget department as well as the release of the funding.

Villanueva replied with a reminder that funding under the Bayanihan 2 was only good up to December of this year.

Under the Bayanihan 2 Law or Republic Act No. 11494, the DOTr received P9.5 billion in cash aid to distribute to the transport industry. Of the total figure, P2.6 billion has been set aside for critically-impacted businesses in the sector; P5.58 billion for temporary livelihood of displaced workers through service contracting; P3 billion for jeepney drivers; P2.580 billion for drivers of other PUVs; and P1.3 billion for the development of sidewalks and bike lanes.

— The Summit Express

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