Drivers to get cash aid with imposition of “social distancing” in Davao PUJs

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 March) – Some 3,000 public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers in Davao City will get P11,880 each as cash aid from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as the local government would limit the number of passengers to six to 10 per trip starting next week to contain the spread of the dreaded novel coronavirus disease or Covid-19.

An overloaded passenger jeepney in Davao City. MindaNews file photo

The measure is part of Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program of DOLE.

In an interview during the Davao City Disaster Radio 87.5 on Thursday, Urban Poor commissioner and TUPAD spokesperson Norman B. Baloro said the government has allotted P35.64 million as cash assistance for the PUJ drivers as the local government would strictly enforce “social distancing” among passengers to protect them from infection.

He said the local government acknowledged that imposing “social distancing” in jeepneys would mean lesser income for the drivers, who complained they might not recover from fuel and rental cost for their units.

The cash assistance is equivalent to P396 per day for every PUJ driver enrolled over a 30-day period.

Baloro said only drivers who are registered with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and City Transport and Traffic Management Office could be enrolled in the TUPAD program.

He said the CTTMO would meet the drivers in batches on Saturday.

“When they are enrolled in TUPAD, they have to work because this is not dole-out from the government. Our emphasis is they have to still work through driving for public service,” he said.

Mayor Sara Duterte said the PUJ drivers who would be enrolled in TUPAD would have to render services to receive the cash aid.

“If you will not drive, you are not entitled to get paid. You are paid by the government to render services. The CTTMO will not pay  those drivers who will not drive,” she said.

PUJs, which comprise the bulk of public transport in the city, are normally loaded beyond capacity, a practice that apparently increases the risk of contracting the disease. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)