MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has submitted to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) the names of public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers and operators qualified to receive cash aid after losing their livelihood due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
In an interview over Radyo Pilipinas on Friday (June 5), Transport Assistant Secretary Giovanni Lopez made this statement after Malacañang bared that the government is studying the possibility of giving another round of cash aid to PUJ drivers and operators.
“Naisumite na po namin lahat ng listahan ng tsuper at operator na sa tingin namin ay nangangailangan at kailangang tulungan (We have already submitted the list of drivers and operators we believe would need help),” he said.
Lopez backed the decision to provide cash subsidy to drivers and operators, stressing that many of them belonged to the “lower class of the society.”
“Pabor po kami na itong mga ayuda ay talaga pong makarating at mabigyan natin ang ating mga tsuper at ating mga operators, mas lalo na iyong ating mga tsuper ‘no (We are in favor that this cash aid would really reach our drivers and operators, especially drivers),” he said.
On Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government is eyeing additional cash aid for PUJ drivers and operators following reports that some of them have been begging in the streets.
Roque said the cash aid will still come from the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Republic Act 11469.
Under the Bayanihan Law, some 18 million low-income families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic will be given cash aid of PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 for the months of April and May.
Aside from cash assistance, PUJ drivers also receive a fuel subsidy which covers 30 percent of their daily fuel consumption for three months.
Roque said the government is considering giving an alternative livelihood to PUJ drivers affected by the community quarantine.
He said there is a proposal to employ PUJ drivers as contact tracers to enhance local government units’ efforts to identify those who have come in contact with persons afflicted with coronavirus.
The government is looking to hire around 120,000 contact tracers nationwide to augment the existing over 30,000 contact tracers, he added.
PUJs are still not allowed to transport passengers under more relaxed community quarantine protocols. (PNA)