Senator Grace Poe on Thursday urged the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to expedite the disbursement of the P5.58-billion service contracting program.
“At the rate, we’re falling behind, it seems that the funds we appropriated are set on an expressway to the Treasury,” Poe said.
“What’s supposed to be a lifeline for jeepney and bus drivers appears to be stalled due to bureaucratic traffic.”
The senator pushed for the inclusion of the fund in Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
Poe made the statement following the call by Move as One Coalition, a broad network of organizations and individuals involved in the fields of transportation, urban planning, and health policy, to expedite the distribution of the fund to its intended beneficiaries.
The group said only P46.1 million or less than one percent of the fund has actually been disbursed. The availability of the appropriation is set to expire on June 30, 2021.
According to Poe, extending the validity of the service contracting program was “possible but not necessarily desirable” as it was not a guarantee of speedier action on the part of the executive branch.
Service contracting refers to an arrangement wherein the national government directly subsidizes the operations of public utility vehicles (PUVs). In this manner, the PUVs would remain financially viable despite the revenue decline due to the reduced carrying capacity for passengers in observance of social distancing rules.
Land transportation is one of the sectors most hard-hit by the economic recession from COVID-19 pandemic. Estimates from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that the gross value added of the sector recorded a decline of 30.1 percent or P123.84 million compared to the previous year.