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Cebu News

Free rides for APORs, health workers resume

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman
Free rides for APORs, health workers resume
This after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB-7) and operators of modern and traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and tourist transport vans and buses signed yesterday an agreement on the implementation of the second phase of the Service Contracting Program.

CEBU, Philippines — Healthcare workers and authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) in Cebu will once again enjoy the government’s free rides.

This after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB-7) and operators of modern and traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and tourist transport vans and buses signed yesterday an agreement on the implementation of the second phase of the Service Contracting Program.

The free rides may start on September 16, 2021, almost two months after LTFRB halted the program.

LTFRB-7 Regional Director Eduardo Montealto, Jr. said the implementation is tentatively scheduled for September 16, but the office is still finalizing the number of PUJs/participants.

He said the implementation will be done gradually.

The nationwide free ride program, he said, has a budget of P3 billion. Of the amount, Central Visayas has a budget ceiling of P300 million.

The program, which aims to ensure reliable and safe public transportation for commuters, will end on December 31, 2021.

Present during yesterday’s signing were Montealto, Macario Quevedo and Manolito Ardimer of Cebu People’s Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Novy Medallo of Lapu-Lapu Mandaue Drivers and Operators Transportation Cooperative, Leah Torrenueva of Kaluha Twin Trading and Services, and Jefferson Cahayag of Json’s Travel and Tours.

The Service Contracting Program under Republic Act No. 11494, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, is part of the government’s COVID-19 response and recovery interventions. Also, it aims to provide temporary livelihood to displaced workers in the transportation industry.

During the Phase 1 of its implementation, operators and drivers joining this program were entitled to receive P82 per kilometer (30 percent for the driver and 70 percent for the operator) as a subsidy from the government.

For the second phase, Montealto said he still has to check if the same benefits would apply.

A total of 90 buses, 200 modernized jeepneys and 250 traditional jeepneys joined this program during the first implementation.

According to the Department of Transportation, this program which started in Metro Manila and has since expanded nationwide, is in line with the directive of DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to help essential workers in their commuting needs and somehow ease their financial burden amid the pandemic. — KQD (FREEMAN)

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