By Ferdinand Patinio

DOLE Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez (Screengrab from Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing)

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday called on operators and drivers of public utility vehicles who might be affected by the government’s transport modernization program to avail of livelihood assistance offered by the agency.

“Ang program ay bukas pa rin, naglaan po ang gobyerno ng pondo para matulungan ang ating mga operators at mga drivers na maapektuhan ng nasabing program (The program remains open and the government has allotted funds to help operators and drivers who might be affected)” Labor Undersecretary for Workers’ Welfare and Protection Cluster Benjo Santos Benavidez said in a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing.

Benavidez said the EnTSUPERneur Program aims to provide alternative sources of income for public transport drivers and operators affected by the PUV modernization program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

As of Dec. 31, 2023, the agency extended some PHP123 million worth of assistance to more than 4,500 beneficiaries, he said.

“Across the regions po, iba iba po ito. Pero base po doon sa report, meron pong nagdecide makapagtayo po ng isang maliit na bakery, meron din pong nag-decide makapagtayo ng isang farm para po, may mga kambing. Meron nagdecide magtayo repair shop para sa cellphone, karamihan po nagdecide magtayo ng pagbebenta ng bigas, sari-sari store at karinderia (The assistance comes in different forms across the regions. But based on our report, some have decided to put up a small bakery. We also have those who ventured into farming or raising goats. Some have put up a cellphone repair shop. Most of them have shifted to rice retailing and putting up sari-sari stores and eateries),” he added.

Benavidez said there are still over 1,500 beneficiaries that would be given livelihood assistance.

“Tinatapos lang namin (We are just finishing) procurement activities so that we can finally award the projects to the affected workers. The DOLE and the DOTr will continue to monitor them,” he said.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has extended the consolidation deadline for PUVs until April 30.

Under the PUV modernization program, operators and drivers will be organized into cooperatives or corporations to ensure the efficiency of its operations with an upgraded fleet of low-carbon emission, safe and efficient PUV units. (PNA)