Poe calls on LTFRB to lift deactivation of Hatchback TNVS drivers

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2019   •   1424

Senator Grace Poe (Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Monday urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to consider lifting its ban on transport network vehicle services (TNVS) units that have failed to comply with application requirements.

Poe made the call as ride-hailing app drivers went offline on Monday (July 8) to protest the agency’s ‘inconsistent’ policies and phase out of hatchback cars.

READ: Ride-hailing app drivers go offline Monday against phase out of ‘hatchbacks’

Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, said the LTFRB already promised in its Memorandum Circular 2018-005 in February that it will allow existing hatchbacks to continue operating for three more years to recoup their investment.

“Siguro ay dapat rin nating malaman kung bakit napagdesisyunan ng LTFRB na hindi sundin ang sarili nilang circular,” the senator said in a statement.

(Maybe it’s time we find out why the LTFRB decided not to follow its own circular.)

“Hindi pwedeng paiba-iba ang ipinatutupad na regulasyon. Hindi ito patas sa mga mananakay at sa mga namumuhunan,” she added.

(The regulations should not be inconsistent. This is not fair to the passengers and investors.)

Poe further said that while LTFRB’s mandate to regulate the industry and ensure the safety of the riding public should be respected, calls to make the process easier according to the Ease of Doing Business Act should also be recognized.

“Matagal na nating kinilala ang kakayanan ng industriyang ito na tugunan ang kakulangan ng maayos na transportasyon sa kalakhang Maynila. Bakit natin kailangang pahirapan ang lahat?”

(We have long recognized this industry’s capacity to fill the gap of mass transportation in Metro Manila. Why do we need to make everyone suffer?)

The TNVS community in Metro Manila earlier said the transport holiday on Monday is to protest the difficult policies of the LTFRB in securing provisional authority and certificate of public convenience.

Although the drivers’ move inconvenienced many ride-hailing app users, Poe said the transport holiday is an opportunity for a negotiation between the LTFRB and the TNVS groups.

The agency earlier announced the conduct of a dialogue on Tuesday (July 9) to discuss the groups’ grievances.

“While the parties are on the table, we hope that the LTFRB can consider lifting the deactivation on those who failed to comply with the requirements,” Poe said.

The senator, meanwhile, revealed that bills seeking to put in place a law governing TNVS operations will continue to be discussed in the Senate.

“These include the re-filing of our bill from last Congress which proposes that only Transport Network Companies (such as Grab) will be directly regulated by the LTFRB. TNVS will only be one of several bills in the overarching ‘inclusive transportation’ agenda,” she said.

Poe added that bills seeking for the establishment of alternative modes of transportation will also be pushed in the 18th Congress.

“Other bills which we will file include the establishment of bicycle lanes, elevated walkways, and other alternative modes of transportation,” she said.

Senate panel sets probe on water franchises for Sept. 1

Robie de Guzman   •   August 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A Senate panel is set to tackle this week the franchise applications of concessionaires, Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company.

The Senate committee on public services will conduct the virtual inquiry on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

“It is the goal of our committee to ensure that the franchise applicants will indeed put the welfare of our people first,” Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the committee, said in a statement.

The senator earlier assured that the bills will go through a fine-tooth comb and challenged the applicants not only to provide access to safe and clean water, but also root out the inconvenience of constant water interruptions.

Citing 2013 and 2016 studies, Poe said the Asian Development Bank has rated the country’s water security at the bottom quarter out of 48 Asia-Pacific countries, with poor governance as the main cause, not water scarcity.

Currently, 15 million Filipinos still do not have access to water while more than 55 people die every day from water-related causes, she added.

“Now more than ever, access to safe and affordable water is basic and crucial in our fight to douse the risks and perils of the unseen virus,” Poe said.

Maynilad Water services the west zone area of Metro Manila and the province of Cavite while Manila Water maintains the waterworks and sewerage system in the east zone and the province of Rizal.

Among the guests invited to the hearing are some officials from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, Manila Water, Maynilad, Philippine Competition Commission, Department of Justice, and some representatives from consumer groups.

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

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 18, 2021

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.

LTFRB defends slow pace of fund release for service contracting program

Maris Federez   •   August 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Atty. Martin Delgra defended the agency’s seemingly slow-paced implementation of the Service Contracting Program, which resulted in the delay of the release of benefits intended for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators.

“Alam din po natin na kahit na sinagad po natin ‘yung programa hanggang June 30, yung pagmomonitor, pagkokolekta ng mga date, pagpeprare ng mga payroll, at saka mga financial documents, hindi po natin maaabot doon sa last day,” Delgra said.

Based on the 2020 Annual Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the LTFRB has released only about P59.7 million or just one percent of the P5.5 billion budget for the said program.

Read: COA calls out LTFRB for using only 1% of P5.5-B budget for drivers’ assistance

The COA recommended to the LTFRB to review its guidelines and make the process simple for the fast distribution of funds.

The Service Contracting Program was launched under the Bayanihan to Recover as One or the Bayanihan 2 which aimed at providing additional income and incentives to drivers whose livelihood was affected by the pandemic.

The said program also launched the government’s Libreng Sakay which was suspended when the implementation of the Bayanihan 2 ended on June 20, 2021.

LTFRB Financial and Management Division, meanwhile, said that aside from the delayed launching of the program, the late downloading of the budget in November 2020 and the alleged incomplete requirement submitted by some drivers contributed to the slow processing of the release of the initial subsidy.

Delgra said around P1.25 billion or over 26 percent of the total funds was released by the agency upon the extension of the Bayanihan 2 until June 30.

The LTFRB chief also said that they have submitted their request to the Department of Budget and Management to release to them the amount of P3.4 billion to be distributed to the rest of the beneficiaries.

The LTFRB is also awaiting the P3 billion from the 2021 national budget for them to resume the service contracting program this year.

“Ayon na rin po sa guidance ng DBM, yung unspent amount po na as of June 30 on the service contracting program maibalik pero mayroon pong ibabalik ayon dun sa nirequest namin na amount na kailangan naming bayaran dun sa tinatawag nating pending payout po,” Delgra said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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