MAJESTIC. The province of Biliran is renowned for its abundance of breathtaking waterfalls, among them the captivating Saob Falls nestled in Cabucgayan town. At Saob Falls, tourists are enchanted by the cascading waters that gracefully descend into a serene pool below. (CRISMAN’S PHOTOGRAPHY)

Deadline extended to April 30

TACLOBAN CITY– Public utility operators in this city have thrown their support on the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program being pushed by the Marcos administration.

The program benefits the commuting public and the drivers themselves, the operators, in a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 7), said.

Melvin Llego, president of the Central Tacloban Transport Cooperative, said that because of the program, they were able to procure ‘new and modern’ vehicles by securing a loan from the LandBank of the Philippines.

“When we shifted from traditional vehicles to modern vehicles, not only were able to secure a loan from the bank but were given a six-month moratorium payment which helped us save to pay the loan,” he said.

The group was able to secure more than P2 million loan from the government-owned bank and pays a monthly payment of about P558,000 a month for the 18 units they have procured.

He added that more than the equipment like air condition, CCTV, and GPS attached to each of the vehicles, the modern vehicles are also environment-friendly.

“We can now help preserve our environment because of these modern public utility vehicles,” Llego said.

Mery Lu Sanderson, president of the Northern Barangay Transport Cooperative, for her part, said that the drivers can now be assured of monthly take-home compared to the previous situation when they were paid on a ‘boundary basis’.

“Before, their income was not fixed as they could only earn at least P350, just enough to buy rice and other daily necessities, after paying their boundary. But now they are being paid of a P400 daily wage,” she said.

Their drivers also now enjoy social pensions unlike before, she added.

The said cooperative have 72 consolidated vehicles.

Meantime, Gualberto Gualberto, the regional director of the Land Transportation, Franchising, and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), said that he welcomed the move of President Ferdinand Marcos,Jr. to extend the deadline of the consolidation to April 30 of this year from the previous deadline of December 31, 2023.

“This will help our help individual operators to join cooperatives who have signified their interest to join the program. This is a very good development,” he said in the same press conference.

Gualberto reported that next to Region 12, Eastern Visayas or Region 8 has the highest compliance of consolidation rating of more than 90 percent.

It was learned that out of the 3,692 registered public utility vehicles in the region, about 3,480 units, including the more than 700 modern buses and jeepneys, have been consolidated as of last month.

“Our transport operators here in Tacloban City are following the policies and programs of the government(on this modernization program) and our commuters have also expressed their gladness on the program saying it is now convenient and comfortable taking public utility vehicles,” Gualberto said.