DOTr On The Misinformed Allegations Of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate

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The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has released its official statement after claims were made by Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate.

The accusations were mainly against the government agency’s lack of welfare for the jeepney drivers following the announcement that they could resume transportation starting June 21, 2020.

According to Zarate, it seems that DOTr secretary Art Tugade is taking advantage of the pandemic to make way for the jeepney modernization.

Below is DOTr’s statement regarding the allegations:

“With all due respect to House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) considers this transition from Modified Enhanced Community (MECQ) to General Community (GCQ), as a public health issue, more than a public transportation issue.

The threat is still here. And in this time of pandemic, health and safety must be of higher importance than comfort and convenience.

As mentioned by Secretary Arthur Tugade, while the mandate of the DOTr is to provide transportation, mobility and convenience, we are likewise vested with the responsibility to the people to help abate the spread of COVID-19.

We do not want public transportation to become transmission vectors of the disease. Hence, the resumption of transportation entails a calculated, gradual, and partial approach if it is to regain its moniker as the lifeblood of the economy, not as an instrument of death.

In the interest of public health, the resumption of public transport must follow several protocols, including a hierarchy of deployment that prioritizes higher capacity vehicles to allow physical distancing, cashless payment systems to prevent physical contact, and an available platform for more efficient contact tracing.

As approved by the IATF-MEID, public transportation modes allowed from June 1 to 21 are trains, bus augmentation, taxis and TNVS, shuttle services, point-to-point (P2P) buses, and other non-motorized transport such as bicycles. By June 22, public utility buses, modern public utility vehicles and UV Express will likewise be allowed to operate. In areas with limited modern PUVs, traditional jeepneys will be allowed.

The DOTr likewise supports and understands the plight of jeepney drivers. It is for this reason that the Land Transportation and Regulatory Franchising Board (LTRFB) has been directed to work closely with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) to expedite the release of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) for PUV drivers.

The DOTr also proposed several initiatives for the transport sector, which have been included in the government’s stimulus package proposal to Congress and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). A major feature of this is the 30% fuel subsidy to help operators and drivers recover their projected profit and take-home income when they resume operations. Also part of the stimulus package submitted to Congress are the provision of loans with deferred interest rates, and no additional interest for deferred payments. The DOTr has also directed the extension of application for renewal of PUV franchises, licenses, and PUV registration sixty (60) days from the lifting of the ECQ/MECQ without penalty to allow drivers and operators to get the necessary requirements.

Further, allow us note that the DOTr shall remain relentless and determined to pursue a public transport transformation that is safe, modern, restructured, well-managed, environmentally-sustainable, and one that ensures that all interests of stakeholders, most especially the commuters, are vigorously being upheld.

We acknowledge the effort of Rep. Zarate in taking up the cudgels for the jeepney community, most operators of whom are in constant dialogue and are working cooperatively with the Department to address issues and to come up with “win-win” solutions.

Rep. Zarate is most welcome to join our endeavors with the different transport groups across the country, with the end view of enlightening him that what we do at the DOTr is “Tunay na Serbisyo.”

Indeed, the Filipino people deserves no less.”

Photo Source: Facebook/DOTrPH