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P2.6B under Bayanihan 2 to be used to assist COVID-hit transport sectors, businesses — DOTr execs


Some P2.6 billion under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act will be used to assist transportation sectors and businesses critically-impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Tuesday.

During the virtual meeting of the House Committee on Transportation, DOTr Undersecretary for Finance Gary De Guzman informed lawmakers on the intended allocations for the P9.5 billion given to the department under the proposed second Bayanihan Law.

According to him, the said funding is distributed among three major activities: P2.6 billion for assistance to critically-impacted businesses, P5.6 billion for service contracting, and P1.3 billion for the installation of bicycle lanes in Metro Manila.

The P2.6 billion for critically-impacted businesses is further distributed among three transportation sectors: land, maritime, and aviation.

De Guzman said that for the aviation sector, the plan is to subsidize airlines so they could waive airport fees and other charges from their customers.

"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 need also to maintain their facilities," he said.

The case is the same for the maritime sector, De Guzman pointed out.

"PPA (Philippine Ports Authority) is also planning to waive some of the charges for our RORO operators, shippers. And then from the money that we will be getting, we will be paying PPA," he said.

As to the land transportation sector, DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor said that they are proposing a fuel subsidy and/or cash grant to affected stakeholders particularly public utility jeepney operators and drivers.

He said that while the DOTr, through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, has already allowed the gradual resumption of public transportation under general community quarantine, physical distancing protocols are still being observed resulting in the reduction of passengers carried by public utility vehicles.

"In order to mitigate this concern, the DOTr will propose the fuel subsidy either through a one-time cash grant or fuel vouchers, which will be equivalent to 30% of the daily fuel consumption of our public utility jeepneys," Pastor said.

"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," he added

Meanwhile, the P5.6 billion in the DOTr's allocation under the proposed Bayanihan 2 Law will be placed for service contracting, Pastor said.

Under this program, public transportation drivers will provide and be paid for services they rendered based on a plan prepared by the LTFRB and agreed upon by operators.

The driver will be paid with an agreed amount per kilometer of travel during a specified period.

"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," Pastor said.

Lastly, Pastor said the DOTr has already signed a joint administrative order with the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Health to provide a design standard and a specific network to which the P1.3 billion will be utilized 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," he said.

The proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act is now up for signature of President Rodrigo Duterte after both the Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral committee report on the measure. — RSJ, GMA News