MANILA, Philippines — A total of P2.6 billion was earmarked to provide assistance to “critically-impacted businesses” in the transportation sector under the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Tuesday.
During the online hearing of the House committee on transportation, DOTr presented its plans and programs under Bayanihan 2, which now only awaits the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Bayanihan 2 seeks to cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic to various sectors in the country, including the transportation sector.
READ: ‘Bayanihan 2’ now only needs Duterte’s signature
DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor said that for the road sector, there is a proposed fuel subsidy and a cash grant to affected stakeholders, particularly public utility jeepney operators and drivers.
“While the DOTr through the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) already allowed the gradual and calibrated resumption of public transportation during GCQ, there are still the physical distancing protocols which limit the income of our PUJ operators,” Pastor said.
“This resulted in the setting of a maximum of 50 percent load of our PUVs which in return results in the reduction of income on the side of the public transport drivers and operators particularly our public utility jeepneys,” he added.
Pastor said the fuel subsidy will either be a one-time cash grant or fuel vouchers, which will be equivalent to 30 percent of the daily fuel consumption of public utility jeepneys.
“The proposed mechanics are still being finalized but we intend to adopt the existing program of the Pantawid Pasada fuel cards so that the system can be readily implemented considering the duration of the Bayanihan 2,” Pastor said.
For the aviation sector, DOTr Undersecretary Gary De Guzman said funds allocated seek to subsidize airline companies that are critically-impacted during the pandemic for waiver of airport fees and charges, as well as landing fees.
“So they plan to subsidize it and then the money that we will be getting from the Bayanihan 2 bill, we will be paying the airport authorities so that the airport authorities will not lose revenue because they also need to maintain their facilities,” De Guzman explained.
For the maritime sector, De Guzman said the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is eyeing to waive some of the charges for RORO operators and shippers.
Another P5.6 billion will be allocated for service contracted, according to Pastor.
Under the program, Pastor said public transport drivers will provide services based on a plan prepared by the LTFRB and agreed upon by operators.
“In return, the driver will be paid with an agreed amount per vehicle kilometer traveled during a specified period, and at the same time, retains all revenue from the fare collection,” he said.
“The program will be able to provide guaranteed revenues to our transport industry regardless of the passenger demand which was the intention of this law as spearheaded by your committee, and that the total budget now is P5.58 billion,” he added.
Creation of bike lanes
Pastor further said that a P1.3 billion budget is also allocated for the creation of a bike lane network in Metro Manila.
The DOTr official explained they have been tasked, together with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), to provide a design standard for the bike lane network.
“We would like to emphasize that the direction is for us to have a protected bike lane as per guidance from our secretary which means that it will be a separate lane for the cyclists and isolated from our regular motor vehicles,” Pastor said.
House transportation committee chair Edgar Sarmiento said that once Bayanihan 2 is signed into law, the government should ensure that a system is in place.
“The funds for Bayanihan 2, I think this is only up to December. So we wanted to make sure that the entire funds can be utilized if ever the contract will be awarded, it can be pushed forward,” Sarmiento said.
“But we wanted to make sure that once this will be signed into law, we don’t want to have the sad experiences we had during the social amelioration [program]. We should have a system and we don’t want the drivers lining up on the streets, which is a pitiful scene,” he added.
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