Press Release
March 27, 2020


Some P17 billion in idle funds in the Department of Transportation (DOTr) should be realigned to support public utility drivers who have lost their income due to the enhanced community quarantine to combat the spread of COVID-19, according to Sen. Grace Poe.

"By our estimate, there is about P17 billion worth of programs and projects in the 2020 DOTr budget that cannot be implemented due to the pandemic on top of those not yet sunk in the ground from 2019," noted Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services.

"We might as well realign these funds for the benefit of our transport drivers whose earnings are severely affected due to the enhanced quarantine," she added.

In enforcing stricter social distancing measures to curb the rapid spread of the disease, the Office of the President had earlier suspended mass public transportation in the entire Luzon. Several provinces have since implemented similar policies to stem the spread of the virus in their jurisdiction.

There are about 130,000 jeepney drivers and some 65,000 transport network vehicle service drivers nationwide. In Metro Manila alone, there are no less than 13,000 public utility bus drivers and roughly 47,000 motorcycle taxi drivers.

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which was signed into law earlier this week, the President is authorized to discontinue programs, projects and activities, and utilize the savings generated to augment items vital in the fight against COVID-19, including amelioration for affected communities.

"Ang pondo na pangtayo dapat ng proyekto ay ipamigay na o ipambili na lang ng pagkain ng mga drayber ng mga pampublikong sasakyan. Surely, no one will contest that the right to food of a PUV driver is more important than some obscure project," said Poe.

She also pointed out that the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law earmarks 30 percent of its incremental revenues for mitigation measures, including fuel vouchers for franchise holders of public utility jeepneys.

"The budget has ceased to be set in stone. The amount for the fuel vouchers should be repurposed as cash or food assistance in this time of emergency. Dapat gamitin ito bilang pantawid sa walang pasada," said Poe.

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