Senators want more aid for drivers, farmers

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2022 05:10 PM

MANILA -- Three senators on Wednesday called on government to immediately support public utility vehicle drivers and farmers who suffer the effects of non-stop oil price hikes and its inflationary effects on prices of basic commodities.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros in a statement stressed the need to expand the government’s service contracting program for PUV drivers.

“Sa service contracting, gobyerno ang magbabayad dagdag sa mga tsuper at operator kapag hindi sumasapat ang approved fare ng LTFRB. Mayroon o walang pasahero, bayad sila,” she said.

(With service contracting, government can pay drivers when the LTFRB-approved fare is not enough. Whether or not they have passengers, they get paid.)

“Ito ay relief para sa tsuper at pasahero dahil kung gagawin nang tama, importante ito para lahat ng ruta ay naseserbisyuhan nang sapat, sa oras na kailangan ang mga sasakyan, walang siksikan at [rasonable], abot-kaya ang magiging pasahe,” she added.

(This is a relief for drivers and passengers because if done well, it can service all routes properly and on-time and at an affordable price.)

Hontiveros said more people would benefit if the government increased the number of PUV routes, similar to what is being done now with the EDSA bus carousel.

There is also a need to fast track the needed improvements for the PUV modernization program, she said.

All these can be funded by the government’s excise tax collection, she noted.

“Tanungin din po natin ang ating mga commuters — kung mababawasan ng trenta minutos ang paghihintay sa bawat paradahan, sulit naman siguro ang piso o dalawang pisong dagdag para umandar nang maayos ang byahe ng ating drivers at operators,” the opposition senator added. 

(Let's ask our commuters--if travel time will be cut by 30 minutes, maybe it's worth paying drivers and operators more by a peso or two.)

Sen. Win Gatchalian, meanwhile, sees the need to increase the amount allotted for the “Pantawid Pasada” program for PUV drivers.

“Pero importante na mabigay sa kanila ito nang mabilis. Gumamit tayo ng electronic wallet para mabilis nila makuha ang Pantawid Pasada. 'Pag hindi magtataas ng pamasahe ang mga PUVs, matutulungan na rin natin ang mga minimum wage earners,” Gatchalian said.

(This must be done quickly. Let's use electronic wallets so drivers can receive the Pantawid Pasada right away. If there is no fare increase, we can also help minimum wage earners.)

With crude oil prices skyrocketing, it is about time that government tap other sources of oil and gas or other renewable energy sources, and encourage the public to use electric vehicles and use energy-efficient gadgets or appliances, he added.

“Dapat maghanda na rin ang bansa kung sakaling tatagal ang giyera sa Ukraine. Hangga't may giyera, may posibilidad na tataas pa ang presyo ng langis,” he said.

(The country should be prepared in case the Russia-Ukraine conlfict is a drawn-out one. As long as there is war, crude prices can spike.)

The lawmaker also said that the 19th Congress must prioritize a law that will fund the Pantawid Pasada Program and support the vulnerable sector if the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues. 

Sen. Joel Villanueva, for his part, pointed out the need for the faster distribution of cash aid for PUV drivers and farmers.

As of June 1 this year, only P1.17 billion out of the P3 billion fuel subsidy allotted for PUV drivers have been distributed, he noted.
 
“Nanawagan din po na maglaan ng additional na P2 bilyon para sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda dahil kulang na kulang po ang P500 milyon na fuel subsidy program para sa kanila,” Villanueva said.

(We need an additional P2 billion for our farmers and fishermen. P500 million is not enough of a fuel subsidy for them.)

Despite the recent daily wage increase approved by the various regional wage boards, the reelected senator assured the labor sector that he will continuously push for the creation of a law that would mandate a “living wage” for all workers.

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