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LTFRB: Duterte OK’d release of P3.3B for unpaid drivers under service contracting program

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the release of more than P3 billion to cover the unpaid payouts for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers who participated in the government’s service contracting program, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said Wednesday.

LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra told the House Committee on Appropriations that the Office of the President green-lit the release of P3.38 billion for the payout of unpaid claims of PUV drivers under the service contracting program.

“Because of that, we now have the funds to pay the payouts in the amount of P3.38 billion,” Delgra said during the House panel’s hearing on the proposed P150.76-billion budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached agencies.

The LTFRB chairman said the agency is starting on Wednesday, September 15, the settlement of payables to affected drivers and operators.

“We hope to finish fully paying [the] payables in the next two to three days,” Delgra said.

Under the LTFRB’s service contracting program, PUV operators and drivers who participated in the government’s free ridership program, will receive a one-time payout of P4,000 and weekly payments based on the number of kilometers traveled per week, whether they have passengers or not.

The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 allocated P5.5 billion funds for the service contracting program.

However, the LTFRB only released P1.5 billion as of June 30, 2021 for “payouts of P4,000 were provided to 23,410 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P25,000 were provided to 8,461 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P20,000 were provided to 702 drivers; and; 18,864 drivers received their weekly payouts.” 

Delgra explained that the more than P3 billion in unutilized funds were returned to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) upon the expiration of appropriation under the Bayanihan 2 on June 30, 2021.

“So meron mga P3.38 billion na hindi po nabayaran as of that time,” he said.

(There were about P3.38 billion unpaid as of that time.)

“Ang sinabi po [ng DBM) ibabalik muna ang unutilized funds tapos magre-request ng pondo,” he added.

(They told us to return the unutilized funds and then request for it.)

In its 2020 report, COA said the LTFRB only used around P59 million of the P5.58 billion funds of the agency’s Service Contracting Program.

The LTFRB, later on, explained that the low utilization rate was due time constraints since the actual funds for its service contracting program was downloaded only to the agency in November 2020 and that memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the LTFRB and the Landbank of the Philippines was only signed in December 2020.  — RSJ, GMA News