Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to reopen more routes for public utility vehicles and fast track pending applications of franchises and routes to boost employment among PUV drivers who lost their jobs in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Likewise, Go urged the DOTr to focus on the safety of commuters, urging it to ensure that health protocols are strictly observed in public transportation.
Go made the call during a public hearing conducted Friday by the Senate Committee on Finance on the DOTr’s proposed budget for 2021.
Go expressed his support to the DOTr’s proposed 2021 budget, while commending its valuable contribution to the government’s efforts in transporting stranded Filipinos amid the pandemic.
“I fully express my support to the Department of Transportation and the agencies under its helm such as, but not limited to, the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Office of Transportation Cooperatives, Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Office of Transportation Security OTS), Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG),” Go said during a public budget hearing conducted Friday by the Senate Committee on Finance.
Citing the agency’s role as one of the pillars in government’s crusade to combat and cope with the ongoing pandemic, Go said the DOTr has instituted various programs that alleviate the plight of the Filipino people, especially to the so-called locally stranded individuals (LSIs) in Metro Manila during the strict community quarantine.
“Napakaimportante po na makasama natin ang ating mga mahal sa buhay sa panahon ng pandemya. The DOTr also instituted reforms in our public transportation system to adjust to the new normal (It is very important that we have the company of our loved ones during the current health crisis.),” Go said.
The senator from Davao also stressed the important role of DOTr in the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program instituted by the executive branch, in which they are in charge of ferrying the returning and relocating residents from Metro Manila back to their home provinces. DOTr and its attached agencies also ensure unhindered transport and delivery of critical goods and services in various parts of the country during the pandemic.
“Bilang isang probinsyano (As a resident of a province), I want this program to succeed. I want our local economies in different regions of the country to prosper. I want to improve the quality of life of every Filipino, kahit nasaan man sila, saang sulok man ng Pilipinas (wherever they are, whatever part of the Philippines they are),” said Go.
With the pandemic far from over, Go called on everyone to observe health protocols.
“Sumunod tayo sa mga health protocols issued by the DOH, lalo na ang pagsuot ng masks and social distancing. Balansehin din po natin ang kapakanan ng ating mga drivers ng public transport, marami po sa kanila ay ang nawalan ng mga ruta (We should follow health protocols issued by the Department of Health (DOH), particularly on the use of masks and social distancing. We should balance our concern for the fate of our public transport drivers who have lost their jobs due to route constrictions),” he added.
Go also reiterated his support for the construction of the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan, which he believes would help decongest the metropolis from heavy traffic and invite more employment in Bulacan.
“Panahon na para i-decongest natin ang Maynila. Welcome development po ang pag-construct ng international airport sa Bulacan which will complement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (It is time to decongest Manila. The construction of the airport project is a welcome development in Bulacan, which will complement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program). I also hope that in addition to the Bulacan airport, we construct and develop more airports in various parts of the country, lalo na ‘yung mga mahirap puntahan (particularly the remote areas),” Go said.
“This will not only improve domestic tourism but also ease the delivery of basic services to our fellow kababayans (countrymen),” he added.