PNA file photo 

MANILA – A newly-elected lawmaker on Wednesday urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to grant conditional amnesty for colorum public utility vehicles (PUVs) so that they could be included in the government's fuel subsidy and the Libreng Sakay program.

In a statement, Quezon Representative-elect Reynan Arrogancia said there could be an estimated 1 million colorum or non-franchised PUVs, while only about 200,000 units or beneficiaries have been included in the fuel subsidy program called Pantawid Pasada.

“Help the unit owners of colorum transport units get legalized so they can be part of the Pantawid Pasada fuel subsidy, the PUV Modernization Program, the ‘Libreng Sakay’ service contracting program, and the Boundary-Hulog program,” Arrogancia said.

Arrogancia also said the conditional amnesty program can start with the colorum public utility jeepneys and UV Express units.

The amnesty can be initiated in Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and National Capital Region where most of the PUV units are, he noted.

He further suggested that the Department of Labor and Employment should register PUV drivers and operators into the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) and the Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) cash aid programs.

The legislator said DOTr should have various affordable options for the colorum operators to choose from.

“Let us keep in mind that many of the PUV operators are small entrepreneurs who are used to doing things on their own. Forcing them to work with many others in a cooperative or corporation is a major change in their lives. Too many variables and too shocking a change,” he said.

Instead of a corporation or cooperative form of business, he said a joint venture or partnership among three to five PUV operators can be an alternative.

Arrogancia explained how a few joint owners of a PUV unit “can operate on a rotation time-share and profit-sharing basis.”

“They can all be trained on bookkeeping, record keeping, vehicle maintenance and repairs, cost management, and inventory management, when they are not driving. This way they are at work everyday,” he said. “Later on, maybe in three to five years, when they are ready to level up and go for economies of scale, the concepts of corporation and cooperative can be introduced."

To date, a total of 84,157 PUV operators are yet to receive their share of the government subsidy.

Out of those who are yet to receive the cash grant, it said 57,841 beneficiaries are processed by the Landbank of the Philippines for immediate remittance.

Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said the fuel subsidy program for delivery services under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has so far gathered 12,965 beneficiaries, out of which 9,552 have received the cash grant.

“Kasalukuyan pang pinoproseso ang naiwang bilang mula sa kabuuang listahan na 27,777 mula sa DTI (The remainder from the total of 27,777 listed under the DTI are still being processed),” it said.

The LTFRB said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has yet to submit a list of tricycle drivers for the subsidy program. (PNA)