Can the government ensure that the P1-billion aid for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers affected by recent fuel price hikes will reach the intended beneficiaries, especially if it does not have an updated database of records?
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson raised this question Tuesday as he pushed for a data-driven approach in extending much-needed help to drivers and other workers who lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic.
"Ang latest dito, maglalabas sila ng P1 bilyon pero sabi ng pangulo ninyo, saan mapupunta na naman? Galing sa national, ibababa sa local, dadaan sa ahensya, iva-validate ng kung anu-anong ahensya, hindi nakakarating sa dapat puntahan (The government plans to distribute P1 billion in aid to PUV drivers. But your president has asked where the money will end up. From the national government, the funds would pass through the local government, and will be validated by several government agencies - but may not reach the intended beneficiaries)," he said at a meeting in Lipa City, Batangas with leaders and members of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap) and Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (TODA).
"Ito ang dapat tugunan kasi sa pandemya kung hindi data-driven ang ating gagamitin para sa pagtulong walang mangyayari kasi kung saan-saan mapupunta yan (I have repeatedly stressed this - that if our efforts to help will not be data-driven, we cannot achieve our goal)," he added.
In pushing for a data-driven approach, Lacson noted many Filipinos who needed cash aid (ayuda) under Bayanihan 1 did not get the needed assistance because the government used outdated records, which dated back to 2015.
Lacson, whose father worked as a jeepney driver, added that when he pushed for aid amounting to P5.58 billion for PUV drivers under Bayanihan 2, an oversight review showed only one percent of the fund was actually distributed. "Hindi ba nagmamalimos ang driver dahil nawalan ng trabaho (Don't we continue to see PUV drivers in the streets begging for help because they lost their livelihoods)?" he said.
Meanwhile, Lacson also suggested that the government's "Libreng Sakay" program tap the services of jeepney drivers, instead of just buses.
"Bakit hindi gamitin ang Libreng Sakay sa jeep na isa-subsidize ng gobyerno sa halip na ibigay libre sakay sa bus (Why not have the Libreng Sakay tap jeepney drivers instead of buses)?" he said.
The no-holds-barred meeting with local transport groups took up issues affecting the transport industry. "Narito ako para makinig kesa magsalita. (I'm here to listen more than to talk)," Lacson said.
On his Twitter account, Lacson noted the issues affecting the transport industry are "more complex than just dealing with the pandemic."
"I had a no-holds-barred dialogue with leaders and members of Fejodap & TODA in Lipa City this morning. Issues affecting the transport industry are more complex than just dealing with the pandemic. Resolving the issues they raised are being addressed. They will hear from me soon," he said.