LTFRB calls COA report misleading; clarifies 1% utilization rate of service contracting program budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 18, 2021   •   303

MANILA, Philippines — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday sought to clarify the findings in the 2020 Commission on Audit (COA) report which stipulated that the Service Contracting Program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and LTFRB utilized only one percent of the allocated budget for the program.

The LTFRB explained that the actual funds were downloaded to the agency only in November 2020 and were distributed to the drivers in December.

The agency stressed that upon receiving the downloaded funds, it immediately implemented the Service Contracting Program “to incentivize Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators who were given permission to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The funds were distributed to the drivers through bank transfers or e-money/wallets of GCASH or PAYMAYA via InstaPay or PESONet.

“Therefore, it is misleading to angle certain reports and columns that only one percent was used from the P5.56-B funds for the Service Contracting Program, where in fact, the one percent utilization rate only covers the implementation month of December 2020, which is also the coverage/extent of the COA report that was released,” it said.

The LTFRB further reported that, as of June 30, 2021, P1.5 billion was released to beneficiary drivers nationwide and for the procurement of Systems Manager, a computer program responsible for the development and management of all project systems.

The LTFRB also said that initial payouts of P4,000 were provided to 23,410 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P25,000 were provided to 8,461 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P20,000 were provided to 702 drivers; and; 18,864 drivers received their weekly payouts.

Regional Disbursement Breakdown:

NCR: P 899,283,017
Region I : P 30,880,623
Region II: P 22,700,504
Region III: P 66,521,375
Region IV : P 100, 976, 294
Region V: P 961, 133
Region VI: P 57,889,214
Region VII: P 14, 594,682
Region VIII: P 2,122,413
Region IX: P 21,065,854
Region X: P 28,938,937
Region XI: P 17,494,636
Region XII: P 81, 798,612
CARAGA: P 72,533,642
CAR: P 26,635,722

Driver Participants:

Registered Drivers- 70,303
Uploaded Drivers- 50,547
Oriented Drivers- 59, 153
Executed Contracts- 50,068

The statement said that to date, the LTFRB is in close coordination with the Department of Budget and Management for the release of funds amounting to P3.3 Billion on the remaining account payables.

The LTFRB said it is committed to helping the DOTr achieve its goal in improving the public transport system towards the development of long-term solutions in the service of our drivers, operators, and the public in general, especially during this time of the pandemic.

DOTr inks deal with Chinese firm for Mindanao Railway project

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Wednesday (October 20) signed a  project management consultancy contract for the first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) with China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) and Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co. Ltd. consortium.

“With the signing of the agreement, it [Mindanao Railway Project] is about to be born, it is about to be triggered into reality. That is not the end of our commitment. It is just a small start of our commitment for the Mindanao Railway to come to reality,” said DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade.

The 100-kilometer Tagum-Davao-Digos Segment is an P82 billion project that will link Davao del Norte, Davao City and Digos City with its eight stations.

“The Mindanao Railway Project, despite the many challenges in the Covid-19 pandemic, the DOTr under the leadership of Sec. Art Tugade, has been consistently pushing to realize after being just a dream for more than half a century. The Mindanao Railway system will unlock opportunities and realize the potential of the people in the land of Mindanao,” said DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy Batan.

The MRP’s first segment is designed to accommodate 122,000 passengers and will reduce travel time between Tagum and Digos from the usual three hours to just one hour.

A China-funded project, the Mindanao rail will be the first train system outside of  Luzon.

“This project is an important part of the Mindanao round-the-island railway. Its planning, construction, and operation play an extremely important role in reducing travel time on the island, accelerating the flow of passengers and goods, and promoting regional economic development,” CRDC Chairman of the Board Mr. Liu Weiqun.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said that the construction of the MRP will begin in the second quarter of 2022.

The Mindanao Railway Project is expected to help improve inter-island connectivity, generate livelihood and boost the region’s economic development. AAC

House panel approves Motorcycles-for-Hire Act

Maris Federez   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Lower House has approved the bill that seeks to legitimize the operation of motorcycle taxis and craft clear regulations that will be applied on the said mode of transportation as well as that of motorcycle delivery services in the country.

The House Committee on Transportation on Wednesday announced that it has approved the proposed Motorcycles-for-Hire Act.

The proposed bill which awaits deliberation in the House plenary will give way to the drafting of standard operating procedures as well as penalties to be imposed on violators in the operation of motorcycles for hire.

This will guarantee that riders will own the responsibility of ensuring the safety of their passengers or the products that they will deliver.

Motorcycles to be used in such services must be registered under the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in accordance with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) standards.

No modification or alteration must be done in the original make of the motorcycle except for the installation of a top box and motorcycle bracket.

Motorcycle taxi and delivery riders must possess a professional driver’s license.

Failure to abide by these regulations will render fines and cancelation of licenses of riders or revocation of the franchise of the operator.

House Committee chairman and Samar Congressman Edgar Mary Sarmiento said the proposed bill will allay concerns of the riders on the changing policies of the government on motorcycle taxis.

“Masayang masaya na after all these years makakamit na rin po natin ang batas–maisabatas na ang pagre-regulate ng motorcycle taxi na alam naman po natin ginagawa na po ng milyon-milyong ating mga kababayan,” said Angkas co-founder and Chief Operations Advocate George Royeca.

He said their group sees this development as a big help to the riding public amid the pandemic.

“Alam mo, we need as many alternative modes of transportation as we can, lalo na ngayong pandemya. Mobility is very, very important. Because of the limitations of the pandemic, I believe na yung open air ventilation is one of the most important or critical aspects,” Royeca said.

The Senate has already approved its version of the bill.—/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

DOTr to recommend increased passenger capacity in PUVs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will recommend an increase of passenger capacity in public utility vehicles (PUVs) as quarantine restrictions eased in the National Capital Region (NCR).

DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor on Monday (October 18) said the department will recommend the proposed passenger capacity increase to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Irerekomenda po ng Kagawaran ng Transportasyon ang pagtaas ng passenger capacity sa ating mga PUVs (The DOTr will recommend the increase of passenger capacity for our PUVs) to cope with the increased number of individuals using public transport due to the imposition of a more relaxed quarantine status,” he said during a virtual public briefing.

Pastor said that increasing the number of PUV passenger capacity from the current maximum capacity of 50 percent will not only help commuters but also PUV drivers and operators, as well.

“This will also address ang matagal na hinihiling ng ating mga kasamahan sa business sector na dapat mas mapalago (what our business sector is hoping for, to boost) economic activities. We can contribute to that through an increase in public transportation, and their capacity,” Pastor said.

The DOTr official added there is no exact figure yet for the passenger capacity but assured that the proposal to be submitted to the IATF will be based on both technical and medical studies. AAC

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