LTFRB hopes to pay PUV drivers under service contracting during ECQ period

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 5) — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said it is hoping to release the payouts for drivers of public utility vehicles that provided free rides under the government's Service Contracting Program during the two-week enhanced community quarantine period.

"We are expediting the process of getting these funds released hopefully during the ECQ period, so that we will be able to pay the drivers who have been waiting for the payment on the Libreng Sakay (free ride program)," LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra told CNN Philippines on Wednesday.

The government implemented the free ride program to help commuters and drivers recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this program, drivers and operators of public utility jeepneys and buses may avail of a one-time payout of ₱4,000 and weekly payments per kilometer traveled, whether they are carrying passengers or not.

However, the LTFRB only released ₱1.5 billion of the ₱5.6 billion budget for the program as of end-June.

Delgra explained the LTFRB is currently in the process of reverting funds to the Department of Budget and Management and it will be requesting for another allocation for the pending payout.

The LTFRB chief said there is no lapse in the management of the payout and it is just the regular bank processing that is affecting the release of payments. He also asked for patience from affected PUV drivers in Metro Manila.

"We would appeal to you for a little bit more time. We've been talking with the DBM so that we would be able to expedite the fund release of the pending payouts," Delgra said.

PUV drivers lament the delays, urging the LTFRB to release the payouts before the hard lockdown starts on August 6.