A CCT program for PUV drivers pushed

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

As the Duterte administration vows to enforce the PUV modernization program beginning this January, public utility jeepney drivers who have fought hard against this program will stand to lose their livelihood until they submit themselves to it.

 

And the transition between submitting to the program and the processing of their loans to modernize their units with ecologically-friendly vehicles, would take months, if not years, to accomplish.

 

In between, Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, of the Bagong Henerasyon partylist and chairman of the committee on public information, is proposing the grant of a conditional cash transfer program for PUV drivers, similar to the indigents, but with more restrictive provisions to prevent its abuse.

 

The idea, Herrera-Dy said, is to absorb in full or partly, the impact of the TRAIN (tax reform for acceleration and Inclusion) excise taxes on diesel and lubricants and to help them tide over uncertainty of the mandated PUV modernization program.

 

“Unlike the Aquino administration’s Pantawid Pasada, the new CCT program’s first phase should cover all PUV drivers, whether or not the PUV they drive has an LTFRB franchise or not. The sins of the PUV operator must not be the sin of the PUV driver,” she said.

 

If this expanded CCT is successful, a future phase of the new CCT for drivers can include tricycle and pedicab drivers.

 

The CCT for PUV drivers would also be a transitional program to help them cope with the PUV modernization program, which includes the phase-out of old, non-roadworthy PUJs and colorum PUVs in three years starting 2018.

 

Refocus

 

For the new CCT for PUV drivers, she proposed a refocus so that instead of the cash transfer being for fuel purchases, the new CCT for PUV drivers will be more similar to the 4Ps of the DSWD. It will enable them to purchase food items for drivers’ families, send to and keep their young children studying in elementary and high school, and get vaccines and medicines.

 

The contact person of DSWD 4Ps are the mothers. It is now time to help the impoverished fathers, some of whom are single parents or breadwinners supporting siblings, children and elderly parents.

 

To instill responsibility and accountability, the new CCT for PUV drivers, ATM cards cannot be used for any purchases of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and illegal drugs. Those ATM cards cannot be pawned or used as collateral in any way and doing so will mean automatic removal from the CCT program.

 

A strict condition for inclusion in the CCT for PUV drivers must be staying drug-free, alcohol-free, and gambling-free, she added.

 

To help weed out colorum PUVs, the Department of Transportation can work out some way to dangle incentives to PUV operators to convince them to let go of and forever stop operating colorum units.

 

Funds for this 4Ps expansion can be sourced from the P24.488 billion in the Landbank budget for which Landbank and DSWD are developing guidelines. For the CCT for PUV drivers, perhaps the Malampaya Fund or road user’s tax or some other flexible fund can be the budget source.

 

Most Filipino drivers are living in poverty. Drivers of jeepneys, tricycles, and pedicabs often live in extreme poverty. They are disadvantaged because of the lack of education, livelihood options, and poor or zero access to basic government services.

 

As a form of non-cash benefit to drivers, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board should require all PUV drivers to undergo the TESDA courses on driving and automotive servicing, so the driver can get formally certified. TESDA can offer these courses for free to PUV drivers. Those certifications they can use to advance their careers/ Drivers can even seek overseas employment using TESDA skills certification.

 

While the DSWD and DOTr are registering the qualified PUV drivers for the new CCT, the DSWD might as well bring in the PhilHealth, SSS, and BIR to issue each of them their numbers and IDs. This way, the drivers can legally avail of government services due them as working individuals.  

 

It would be prudent for the LTFRB to cooperate with the DSWD on these measures and to factor in the impact of the cash transfers before they decide on petitions for transport fare increases.

 

 

 

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