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234 drivers apply for social aid package for HPBS: Spox

Two hundred thirty-four drivers already applied for the financial and non-financial assistance as part of the High Priority Bus System (HPBS) project.

Speaking in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press briefing held at The Royal Mandaya Hotel, Norman Baloro, spokesman of HPBS, said that there are 79 drivers in the Catalunan Grande route, 111 in the Toril route, 23 in Calinan, and 21 in Bunawan.

He said they are expecting around 13,000 drivers and 9,000 operators who will be affected by the HPBS.

However, he said they encountered some hurdles involving operators.

“We have a slight problem with the operators because most of their units were sold already. So, that is why we are urging the operators not to purchase a franchise if ever they will know within the year that they are selling their franchise,” he said.

The franchise is a necessary requirement to secure any assistance. The operators stand to receive higher social amelioration compared to the drivers. The amount will depend on the number of franchises they own.

“If the operator owned 10 jeepneys, we have to multiply the amount for the operator to 10 units,” he further said.

Also, the operator may take advantage of one non-financial assistance, while each driver can get three non-financial aid packages.

For instance, each driver can receive as much as P315,000 assistance based on the non-financial package.

“We’ll send his beneficiary or grantee to CHED (scholarship) for four years,” he said. “They could avail our Tesda training based on his capacity … (after which) he will receive a kit for P10,000 to P20,000.”

A job-bridging program led by the Department of Labor will also give employment opportunities for the displaced drivers.

He said the bidding process for the HPBS will take place next month. Qualified bidders can submit their applications and they will be evaluated based on their capacity to deliver.

Based on their timeline, the first buses will arrive by October 2020.

During the initial phase, 48 bus stops will be installed along the C.P. Garcia Highway (diversion road), 66 bus tops in Toril area, and 55 stops in Catalunan grande.

They also moved the schedule of the last consultation dialogue from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 after what had happened in the Bunawan-Buhangin route last week.

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