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It’s like we’re begging for alms, say drivers

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Jeepneys in Baguio. STORY: We’re like begging for alms, say drivers

KING OF ROAD Conventional jeepneys ply the principle thoroughfares in Baguio City on this picture taken on Monday. Jeepney operators are given by the federal government till the center of 2022 to consolidate and convert their public utility automobiles into trendy environmentally pleasant city buses. But transport regulators are being requested to postpone the deadline due to the pandemic and excessive gasoline costs pushed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. —ALLAN MACATUNO

MANILA, Philippines — “It’s like we’re begging for alms.”

That was how jeepney driver Modesto Floranda described the issue in getting the P6,500 in gasoline subsidy which he and an estimated 375,000 drivers of public utility automobiles (PUVs) are searching for, amid the rise in gasoline costs following the battle in Ukraine late final month.

“The big problem here is the hardship of claiming the assistance from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) due to the long process and many documents that we need to submit,” Floranda, who can also be nationwide president of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston), mentioned in an interview with the Inquirer on Sunday.

“The subsidy is supposed to be for fuel products so we’re telling the LTFRB and Congress that the Pantawid Pasada should directly benefit the drivers,” Floranda additionally mentioned, referring to the Department of Energy’s one-time gasoline subsidy program final yr which, as PUV drivers and operators perceive, is identical subsidy they’re searching for anew.

Back and forth

The newest gasoline subsidy, whose distribution started on March 15, could also be obtained by means of the identical Pantawid Pasada card, in keeping with an official of the LTFRB.

But as an alternative, the meant beneficiaries have been complaining concerning the aggravation of going forwards and backwards in following up on their due advantages.

Complicating issues is the problem of possession in relation to jeepneys which were offered.

Ricardo Rebaño, president of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap), cited some situations whereby new operators couldn’t apply for a Pantawid Pasada card, as a result of both the LTFRB had suspended the switch of possession or the earlier operators weren’t cooperating with the brand new ones in finishing the necessities for the subsidy.

To declare the advantages, new operators must submit many necessities that normally come from earlier operators.

The LTFRB permits new operators to get a particular energy of lawyer, authorizing them to behave on behalf of the earlier proprietor.

Rebaño recalled a brand new operator having the ability to safe the authorized paperwork wanted for his subsidy, however upon going to the financial institution to say the money help, he was requested to current a authorities ID of the earlier proprietor.

“There is also another situation wherein the old operator was able to apply for a Pantawid Pasada card but failed to turn it over to the new operator, to whom he sold the vehicle,” he mentioned.

“The cash aid—which should be given to the drivers—may be transferred to the previous operator,” he added.

“These are some of the problems as to why just a small portion of our sector [is] getting the subsidy,” Rebaño mentioned.

Increase in minimal fare

He mentioned if the federal government actually needs to offer help, it should approve the P1 enhance within the minimal fare for jeepney journeys—which some jeepney drivers in Metro Manila are literally already charging their passengers.

The LTFRB had rejected that petition, though it granted such a rise in 2018 amid the identical concern on the time over rising gasoline costs.

Floranda mentioned, “Our call is to bring back the previous order in 2018 when the government approved of increasing the fare because the price of diesel back then reached P59.”

“We hope that they would approve this P1 increase for the meantime, to allow drivers to survive the everyday need to avail [themselves] of fuel products,” he added.

Rebaño mentioned: “If a jeepney driver can take up to 200 passengers a day, that would automatically be an additional P200 that would augment their meager daily earnings.”

He admitted that some jeepney drivers had been already charging the P10 fare, however mentioned “it’s not mandatory and only up to the passenger.”

“What is needed here is action. While [the government] is thinking of ways to help the transportation sector, in the meantime, they should release an order to approve the temporary P1 fare hike,” Rebaño mentioned.

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