Government should not make life more difficult for struggling public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators who want to participate in the government’s PUV modernization program.
This was the main point made by AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee as he urged the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and other government financial institutions to simplify and streamline the overwhelming loan requirements for transport cooperatives and corporations to purchase modern jeepneys.
“Let us liberalize and simplify these requirements. Marami na ngang na-comply na requirements na hiningi ang LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) at LTO (Land Transportation Office), kilo-kilometro pa rin ang dami ng hinihingi ng Land Bank o DBP na mahirap kumpletuhin.”
During the plenary deliberations on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Lee lamented the cumbersome documents and papers required by government banks to provide loans or assistance to transport cooperatives.
Lee reiterated that “the government must not burden the PUV drivers and operators in accessing loans to buy modern jeepneys.”
“Let us liberalize and simplify these requirements. Marami na ngang na-comply na requirements na hiningi ang LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) at LTO (Land Transportation Office), kilo-kilometro pa rin ang dami ng hinihingi ng Land Bank o DBP na mahirap kumpletuhin,” Lee stressed.
“Kaya po tayo nagsusulong ng ganitong mga programa, kaya natin pinapataas at pinapalaki ang budget, ay para makatulong. It defeats the purpose kung pinapahirapan natin sila. Ano ba talaga ang papel natin dito? Ang tulungan sila o ang pahirapan sila?”
During the said budget deliberation, Lee asked the LTFRB to work hand-in-hand with his office to compel the Land Bank, DBP and other government financial institutions to expedite the process of providing loans for modern jeepneys, to which the latter committed to him and other House Members.
According to the Bicolano lawmaker, “maging makatotohanan po tayo dito. Napakahirap na nga po ng buhay ng ating mga tsuper at operator dahil sa walang prenong pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina at ng mga bilihin, dadagdagan pa natin ang sakit ng ulo nila sa mahahaba at komplikadong proseso ng pag-apply ng loan.”
Lee said that a jeepney driver or operator who earns about P500 to P750 a day cannot afford to buy a modern jeepney worth more than P2 million.
“We must keep in mind that the transport sector is not only a public service but most importantly, a source of livelihood. Napakarami po nating kababayan ang umaasa sa kabuhayang ito na kasa-kasama nila sa pagtataguyod ng pamilya at pagpapaaral ng mga anak hanggang sila ay maka-graduate,” Lee said.
The legislator pointed out that “hindi natin sila masisisi na talagang mangamba na baka mawala ang kanilang pinagkakakitaan, at wala na silang maipantustos sa pangangailangan ng pamilya, lalong-lalo na—huwag naman sana—kung sila ay magkasakit o ma-ospital.”
Aside from streamlining the requirements for said loan, Lee also pushed for allocating P1.8 billion for the PUV modernization program which got zero funding for 2024.
“We need to understand na holistic at comprehensive itong modernization program. It does not end in just consolidating or buying new public utility vehicles or units,” Lee explained.
“Ang tungkulin ng gobyerno, magpatupad ng mga hakbang kung saan Winner Tayo Lahat, hindi yung pabibigatin pa ang pasanin ng taumbayan.”