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Poe hits 'sluggish' rollout of LTFRB’s service contracting program for PUVs

Senator Grace Poe on Friday slammed the “sluggish” rollout of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) service contracting program for transport sector workers.

“The rollout of the service contracting program is happening at a sluggish pace that denies our public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and transport sector workers a decent income amid the pandemic,” Poe said in a statement.

Since the approval of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Law on September 11, 2020, the senator said only P461.8 million out of P5.58 billion has been disbursed to the those who lost their livelihood due to the lockdown.

The lawmaker pointed out that the Bayanihan 2 is set to expire on June 30 which means the distribution of the assistance should be done within more or less 30 days.

“Unless the availability of the fund is extended, the billions of pesos, which could have eased the woes of our drivers without income, will just return to the government coffers,” she said.

“We must not allow the bulk of the billion-peso fund to remain unspent while thousands of transport workers struggle to make ends meet, with some even forced to beg to feed their families,” she added.

Poe also underscored that the delay in the service contracting program will slow down opportunities for the drivers to have “dignified” income and to provide the commuters a safe and comfortable travel.

On Friday afternoon, the House Committee on Appropriations approved the substitute bill, which seeks to extend the validity of Bayanihan 2.

The Department of Budget and Management said it has already released the funds under the Bayanihan 2 to all implementing agencies.

According to Budget Assistant Secretary Kim de Leon, the cumulative obligation rate was at 51.06% and the disbursement rate was at 70.34% as of April 15. -MDM, GMA News