P1.15-B social packages offered to drivers, operators

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DAVAO CITY – Drivers and operators affected by the transport modernization program here can now avail of the social compensation packages under the High Priority Bus System (HPBS).

In an interview on Sunday, HPBS spokesperson Norman Baloro said the PHP1.15 billion worth of packages will be offered under the programs of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which is earmarked at PHP100 million, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-PHP100 million, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)-PHP100 million, Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-PHP300 million, Department of Health (DOH)–PHP50 million, Department of Transportation (DOTr)-PHP250 million, and the city government-PHP250 million.

“The funds are already downloaded and anytime, they can avail three non-financial programs (among the five packages) offered,” he said, referring to skills training, educational and cash-for-work assistance.

Under the DOLE program, the driver, operator or their designated beneficiaries can avail of the one-month cash-for-work program and get paid at least PHP11,000. This is on top of the financial assistance for them.

The DTI will be offering livelihood kits and capacitate individuals to become entrepreneurs.

The TESDA also provides various skills trainings, the top priority for which is a NC3 level course for bus driving and other automotive-related courses.

CHED offers a four-year course education grant of PHP15,000 per year for four consecutive years for one beneficiary of the driver or operator.

On top of the health assistance that the beneficiary can get from PhilHealth, the Lingap, Malasakit Center and DOH will give them an additional PHP5,000 to PHP10,000 as medical assistance.

“These packages can be availed by the operators and drivers themselves or their designated and qualified beneficiaries up to the fourth civil degree of relationship,” Baloro added.

The compensation packages are social safety nets, economic assistance, and capacity building opportunities available to eligible jeepney operators and drivers depending on the choices they make, whether to participate in the HPBS, or to exit from the public transportation sector.

Baloro, however, clarified that these social compensation packages will be offered not just for drivers and operators who will be affected by the first phase of the implementation of the HPBS, but to all jeepney drivers and operators.

An estimate of 100 HPBS buses will serve the routes in Toril, Catalunan Grande and Diversion.

The HPBS is one of the city’s measures to address the worsening traffic situation as it seeks to provide a safe, convenient, sustainable and efficient public transportation for all.