The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN), through the Metro Ilocos Norte Council (MINC), has started the distribution of cash assistance to public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers who were displaced during the suspension of public transportation services under the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), last August 27.
Php 1,275.00 was provided to 297 recipients out of 995 PUJ drivers in exchange for clearing drainages, unclogging canal systems, and cleaning the surroundings in their respective municipalities.
“Itong cash-for-work program namin ay in partnership with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office at Environment and Natural Resources Office. Ang first batch ng recipients natin ay ang mga naunang nakapagpasa ng mga dokumento. Nauna na ang mga Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations na may ruta dito sa Laoag City, Pasuquin, Bacarra at San Nicolas,” Mr. Lauren Eman Bayangos, MINC personnel, said.
Mr. Eddie Aquino, a member of Laoag-Piddig Operators and Drivers Association, is one among thousands of displaced drivers in Ilocos Norte who depend on their daily trips for their livelihood.
“Napakahirap talaga nitong pandemyang kinakaharap natin. Lahat kaming drayber ay nawalan ng panghanap-buhay,” the driver with 20 years of experience said.
Even if the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board allowed PUJs to be backed on the road, Mr. Aquino still struggles to earn an income.
“Kahit pinayagan na kaming magpasada ulit, mahirap paring kumita. Php 150.00 lang ang natitira sa ‘kin sa Php 550.00 na kinikita ko sa isang araw. Php 200.00 ang napupunta sa krudo at Php 200.00 ang ibinibigay ko sa operator.
“Kaya sobra ang aking pasasalamat sa Gobyerno Probinsyal sa pangunguna ni Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc sa kanilang programang cash-for-work. Kahit papaano ay makakatulong ito sa aming pamilya,” he shared.—Blessing Angel V. Agliam, PGIN-CMO