Poe prods LTFRB on sluggish rollout of PUV commuter service program


SEN. Grace Poe, flexing the Senate’s oversight powers as chairperson of the Committee on Public Services, assailed the sluggish rollout of the service-contracting scheme (SCS) launched by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Reminding that the SCS is part of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Republic Act 11494), the lawmaker lamented the delayed reaction of Duterte administration officials concerned tasked to address the problem.

“It is lamentable that the government simply shrugged its shoulders over its inability to disburse payments to our operators under the service-contracting program,” Poe said.

Reports reaching her office noted that restive drivers and operators decried that they failed to receive due compensation for the services they already rendered under the program.

For his part, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra confirmed they already disbursed P1.25 billion or 26.55 percent of the P5.58 billion allotted for payouts last June.

Poe, likewise, lamented the delay, saying it was unacceptable. “Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang labis na kabagalan sa paglabas ng pondong pambayad sa mga operator at drayber na walang kapagurang naghatid sa ating mga frontliner araw at gabi,” said Poe.

The senator formally filed a resolution paving the way for the upcoming inquiry into “the slow implementation of the service contracting program,” which Poe earlier pushed to be included in Bayanihan 2 to provide alternative source of livelihood to drivers left without income amid the pandemic.

“We had hoped that the provision of assistance to PUV [public-utility vehicle] drivers would be given the express lane treatment. Instead, it got stuck in bureaucratic gridlock,” the lawmaker lamented.

She recalled that recently, the Commission on Audit (COA) had noted that the LTFRB utilized only P59.72 million or 1.07 percent of the P5.58-billion appropriation under the law. 

Poe also bemoaned the findings of the COA that the release of the service-contracting program was delayed by 11 months. In addition, only 2,125 of 60,000 target beneficiaries were onboarded to the LTFRB’s dashboard. 

“We cannot just sit and watch as our ‘kings of the road’ who have always rushed to the rescue of stranded commuters have now become beggars on the streets with no one to look after them,” the senator stressed.

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