Poe asks DOTr to explain billions of unspent Bayanihan funds for drivers

Poe asks DOTr to explain billions of unspent Bayanihan funds for drivers

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe said the Department of Transportation (DOTr)
must explain how it utilized the P9.5 billion Bayanihan 2 funds to
alleviate the situation of pandemic-hit transport workers amid reports
of huge underspending.

“Dahil sa lockdown, nawalan ng trabaho ang ating mga driver. Maraming
healthcare workers ang hindi makapunta sa trabaho dahil walang
transportasyon. Tapos nandiyan na ‘yung pera, bakit hindi natin
binibigyan ng trabaho ang mga driver at swelduhan sila?” Poe said.

“Hindi ba tayo naaawa sa mga driver na namamalimos? Iyong umaasa sa
bigay o nakapila sa mga community pantry para may makain ang pamilya
nila? May pera naman pala, bakit hindi gamitin para makaahon man lang
sila?” she added.

After inquiring from the Department of Budget and Management during
Thursday’s Senate briefing, Poe learned that the entire P9.5 billion
fund from Bayanihan 2 law for various programs of the DOTr has been
fully released.

Of the amount, P5.58 billion was allotted to provide temporary
livelihood to displaced drivers and operators through service
contracting; P2.604 billion intended to assist the critically-impacted
business in the transport industry; and P1.316 billion allocated to
develop sidewalks and protected bicycle lanes, procurement of bicycles
and related safety equipment.

In a news release in August, the Land Transportation Franchising and
Regulatory Board, one of the agencies under the DOTr, said that P1.5
billion has been released to beneficiary drivers nationwide and for
the procurement of the Systems Manager, responsible for the development
and management of all project systems.

Poe said she will also seek an explanation from the DOTr on reports
that of the P1.5 billion, only P653 million made it to the hands of
the beneficiary drivers.

The senator said the agency should be taken to task for the unspent
funds when it presents its proposed 2022 budget.

“Displaced from their source of income because of the lockdowns, our
drivers and other transport workers run the risk of becoming victims
twice as government agencies appear incapable of using the billions of
assistance funds to help them,” she said.

“Imbes na gastusin ang pondo para makabalik na sa kalsada ang ating
mga driver, pinapatulog lang ang pera at walang serbisyong naibibigay
sa panahon ng kagipitan,” Poe said. (ai/mtvn)

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