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Gov’t agencies assure help for drivers, operators affected by modernization

ILOILO CITY (PIA6) -- Government agencies in Western Visayas are ready to help jeepney operators and drivers who will be adversely affected by the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

In a news conference organized by the Philippine Information Agency, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) regional spokesperson Salvador Altura said the modernization program includes social support projects to mitigate the program’s effect on the drivers and operators.

“This is the relevance of the presence of DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) for the social support program to address the effects of the program. May budget ina kag ini nga budget for social services (There’s a budget on that for the social services),” Altura said.

He noted that the key programs available for the affected sectors include the “enTSUPERneur” under DOLE and the “Tsuper Iskolar” program under TESDA and funded by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Donnabelle Sollesta, TESDA training specialist, said they are currently implementing the “Tsuper Iskolar” program, which has already benefited 900 operators, drivers, or their dependents in the region.

“May ara na kita scholarship grants, pwede na naton na ma-distribute sa mga groups and pwede  sila ka-avail sang free skills training and assessment. May ara na sila P350 nga daily allowance and food allowance.  We also have free entrepreneurship training sa aton beneficiaries.  Kami sa TESDA-6, gina-assure gid kamo namon sang prompt and

LTFRB-6 spokesperson Atty. Salvador Altura orients members of the media about the updates in the government's PUVMP. (PIA-Iloilo photo)

efficient implementation of the scholarship programs nga pwede ma-extend ni TESDA sa ila families, beneficiaries kag ila mga dependents (We have scholarship grants. We can distribute it into groups and they can avail free skills training and assessment. We give them P350 daily allowance and food allowance. We aso have free entrepreneurship training for the beneficiaries. WE, in TESDA-6, assure the prompt and efficient implementation of the program that we can extend to their families, beneficiaries and their dependents),” Sollesta noted.

Department of Labor and Employment regional spokesperson John Mandario revealed that they already distributed P10.4 million worth of livelihood assistance to 437 beneficiaries in the region.

“Diri sa Iloilo, one of the biggest nga gintagaan naton is the Sta. Barbara-New Lucena Iloilo Transport Coop which engaged in a consumer store project under this program, granted P1 million for capital. We empower them to work and to make this project grow (Here in Iloilo, one of the biggest that we gave is in Sta. Barbara-New Lucena Iloilo Transport Coop which engaged in a consumer store project under this program, granting them P1 million capital. We empower them to work and to make this project grow),” Mandario said.

Altura, on the other hand, said that the beneficiaries were determined first by the affected cooperatives and initially evaluated by the LTFRB-6 before submitting the names to the DOLE and TESDA.

He also clarified that not all displaced operators and drivers are qualified for these projects and assistance, as 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) beneficiaries and government officials, up to the barangay level are automatically disqualified.

The drivers and operators were earlier given until Dec. 31, 2023 to process the consolidation of their franchise, but President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Jan. 24, 2024 has extended the PUV consolidation deadline until April 30, 2024 as recommended by DOTr secretary Jaime Bautista.

As of the end of 2023, data from LTFRB-6 indicated that over 3,600 PUVs in the region have already been consolidated with Iloilo province having 1,911 (97 percent) PUVs consolidated and 1,692 (about 75 percent) PUVs in Iloilo City.

Francisca Bijare, chairperson of the LETRANSCO expresses support for the government's PUVMP during the press conference organized by PIA-6 Iloilo Information Center. (PIA-Iloilo photo)


Meanwhile, several transport cooperatives in the city and province of Iloilo that have already undergone the consolidation process expressed support to the PUVMP.

Winefredo Doblizo Jr., manager of the Alliance for Peace Sustainable Development Transport Cooperative, said it is already high time for the country to go into jeepney modernization, noting that the government knows what it is doing and ready to help those who will be affected.

“Sa bilog nga kalibutan kita na lang gid ang naulihi. Daw hindi ta pa pagbuy-an ang aton PUJ. Wala man ta nagasiling nga ginadisregard naton ang local producers naton but then siling gani naton gusto naton magmodernized para man ini sa aton nga commuters kag sa

mga drivers and operators naton nga maging sustainable ang ila pangabuhi-an sa transport industry (We are already late compared to other nations as it’s like we don’t want to give up the old PUVs. It’s not that we are disregarding the local producers, but this modernization is needed for the commuters, drivers and operators for them to have a sustainable livelihood in the transport industry),” Doblizo stressed.

Edwin Escanos , manager of the Calumpang-Iloilo Transport Service Cooperative also pointed out that through the cooperative, they gave additional work to some people, particularly working students; and assured availability of transportation service through proper street management systems.

“Unlike sa traditional mindset nga kung okay na ang bulsa, pululi na ang drivers ta wherein wala control ang aton operators. Ginhatagan man namon sang dignidad ang drivers kay wala lang sila nagaubra, before na sila i-dispatch, na-check na sang safety officer kung naka proper haircut, naka-ID, naka-uniform, wala sang gisi ang dilargo kag dapat naka sapatos and na see to it nga hind under influence sang liquor (Unlike with the traditional mindset, wherein drivers can just go home whenever they feel that they already earned enough, through modernization, we give drivers dignity in their work. The safety officers always check the drivers, like their haircut, IDs, uniform and shoes before dispatching them. They also see to it that they are not under the influence of liquor),” Escanos said.

Another representative from Leon Transport Cooperative (LETRANSCO) shared how they transformed their cooperative from only having P390,000 worth capitalization to having P6 million capital through proper collaboration and understanding among members.

Francisca Bijare, chairperson of the LETRANSCO, said that aside from their 19 units, they have already started to venture into the selling of spare parts and a gasoline station as an added service for their members.

“Kung wala opisina kag holiday, wala man damo gid nga pasahero, so ga-adjust kita with the demands sang aton mga pasahero, but with other sources of income that would support our operations, we feel nga kampante kami nga we can give back to our members what we owe them (If there’s no office and it’s holiday, there are only few passengers, so we are adjusting with the demands of passengers, but having other sources of income that would support the operators, we feel that we can give back to our members what we owe them),” Bijare said.

“In the process, we were able to convince them that with their support and their full cooperation, we will be able to eventually lead, transform, conquer all of the challenges and will achieve success in this modernization program,” she added. (AAL/JNH/PIA Iloilo)

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John Noel Herrera

Information Officer

Region 6

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