MANILA - Some lawmakers want a ban on the phaseout of old jeepneys that are still roadworthy during the coronavirus pandemic, with the government unable to give cash aid to all those who could lose their livelihood, Sen. Grace Poe said Thursday.
The Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) bill, which will let President Rodrigo Duterte realign funds for the pandemic, provides for the planned phaseout of traditional jeepneys not to be implemented, she said.
This provision was "not questioned" during the bicameral conference and "stays for now," said Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services.
"I have the support of all of my colleagues when it comes to that because they have seen the need of transportation and livelihood," she told ANC.
"Lalong-lalo na ngayon na marami sa ating mga kababayan ang walang hanapbuhay at kailangan din natin ng transportasyon… ang aming panukala ay wala munang phaseout ng mga traditional jeeps natin. Basta lang ang importante, ito ay roadworthy — ibig sabihin, ligtas, safe at hindi naman smoke belcher," she added.
(Especially now that many of our compatriots are jobless and we also need transportation, our appeal is don't implement the phaseout of traditional jeepneys yet as long as these are still roadworthy, meaning they are safe and are not smoke belchers.)
Some 400,000 drivers unable to ply the roads due to the pandemic lockdown were qualified to get cash aid from the government. However, there were delays in verifying beneficiaries and only 10 percent of them have gotten aid, said Poe.
The Bayanihan 2 allots funds for fuel vouchers for public utility drivers, she said.
"The funds are really limited right now… In as much as I would like to say everybody will be covered, unfortunately, that’s not going to be the reality," the senator said.
"That is why we are advocating that more drivers should be able to ply the routes, they should be able to work because at this point, government — even if we wanted to — cannot possibly cover everyone."