Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday pledged to look into the plight of transport groups that struggle with modernizing their units due to high cost and the difficulty of getting loans.
“First and foremost, hundred percent I hear you… Count on me to be one of those na magbabantay at titingin [sa issue na ito],” Cayetano said in response to a question by a transport group adviser during a press conference in Baguio City on November 25, 2023.
Joseph Cabanas of the Gabriela Silang Operators and Drivers Association had said transport groups are “not against modernization” but are only asking help from the government in order to avail themselves of loans.
“Gusto namin [ng modernization]. Mangungutang kami pero may counterpart sana ang gobyerno,” Cabanas said.
Cayetano said he understood the struggles of transport groups, which were among those badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic when most people were told to stay home.
Now that the country is out of the medical emergency, many people continue to face hardships. “Just because the pandemic is over and big businesses have recovered doesn’t mean lahat ng Pilipino nakarecover na,” he said.
“The reality is y’ung may mga parlor na maliit, carinderia, y’ung mga nag-invest ng 1-2 million (pesos) sa small businesses — kung naubos ‘yan n’ung pandemic, hindi nila basta basta maproproduce ngayon ulit yan,” he added.
Cayetano said in the case of transport groups, the previous administration had not taken the differences among localities into consideration and instead presented a “one-size-fits-all” transport modernization program.
“Kung sa gamot walang cure-all, sa programa ng gobyerno lalo in a country with more than 7,000 islands, wala namang one-size-fits-all,” he said.
“Kasi hindi pare-pareho. May mga lugar na mas malalaki ang highway so mas maraming jeep than tricycle. Dito sa Baguio maraming taxi, then the buses papunta ng [malalayong lugar tulad ng] Dagupan, Nueva Ecija, Manila,” he added.
PTK a ‘win-win’ formula
Cayetano said one of the programs he initiated — PTK (Presyo, Trabaho, Kita/Kaayusan) — has proven to be effective in addressing the needs of sectoral groups that struggle with taking out loans.
He related the experience of a PTK group in Iloilo which received P250,00 from his program and was able to utilize it effectively until it was eventually able to purchase 90 buses through a P100-million loan. The group is now negotiating for another P100-million loan for a second group of buses, this time electric.
“What do they have na wala sa iba? A win-win formula. Wala namang problema kung magkautang basta sure kang mababayaran mo at sure kang makakautang at sure kang kikita,” he said.
Cayetano also said this is the foundation of another program of his that provides P10,000 in financial assistance to those in need.
“It was not standalone. Ang kasama ng programa na y’un is how to provide financing na merong at least one to three years na grace period… Huwag ka munang magbayad ng one to three years hanggang makabawi [ang negosyo mo],” he said.
Cayetano said he is sure transport groups would be willing to modernize their units as long as they can get a similar arrangement as the PTK groups.
“Basta win-win, most [drivers and operators] papayag [sa modernization],” he said.