MANILA - The Department of Transportation maintained Tuesday it was time to increase passenger capacity of public utility vehicles, following the placement of Metro Manila under the less stringent Alert Level 3.
The higher vaccination rate in the metro also allows for the increase in passenger capacity as the demand from operational businesses grew, the DOTr said in a statement.
During the Public hearing of the Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Finance Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor said the agency already submitted its formal position paper to the coronavirus task force.
"Nakapag-submit na po ang road sector ng formal position paper na i-increase ang seating capacity from 50 percent na para po sa amin, kung masusunod ang Kagawaran, ay pwedeng maging 100 percent based on medical literature that is available."
(We have submitted our formal position paper to increase seating capacity from 50 percent to 100 percent, based on medical literature that is available.)
The DOTr said the proposal would be tested in Metro Manila.
The agency said it would also welcome the P1 billion from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earmarked to fund cash grants for drivers of public utility vehicles as oil prices continue to spike.
The DBM on Monday said it would release the fund to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The DOTr assured the public that the fund would be distributed to "qualified and bonafide" PUV drivers for the remaining months of the year.
Drivers will receive the cash grants using the established system under the Pantawid Pasada program of the LTFRB, which will be disbursed by the Landbank of the Philippines straight to cash cards issued to drivers, the agency said.
"The release of the fuel subsidies is also timely, as the DOTr, on Thursday, will also be defending its proposal before the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID)," DOTr said.
Pastor said the agency is not in favor of any hike in passenger fares.
Prices of petroleum products spiked for 9 straight weeks, prompting several lawmakers, transport groups as well as Energy officials to call for the suspension of the excise tax on fuel.
The Department of Finance, however, said the suspension of the measure could result in billions in revenue loss.