Santo Tomas public transport sector to receive aid: Evangelista

Sto. Tomas Davao del Norte
(Photo used for the graphics from Municipal Government of Santo Tomas, Davao del Norte Facebook Page)

DAVAO CITY — The pedicab drivers and operators in Santo Tomas, Davao del Norte will receive financial assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic toll in the livelihood of the transport sector. 

This was revealed by Municipal Mayor Ernesto Evangelista in a statement after he and Municipal Administrator Elisa Evangelista-Lapina tapped Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go to aid the said sector in their town. 

Evangelista said, the Office of Go confirmed last Friday that the first batch of pedicab drivers and operators who are beneficiaries of Assistance To Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) will be validated on May 3 to 5, at the Municipal Recreation and Cultural Center from 8 AM to 5 PM. 

He said the Routes 7 and 9 drivers and operators should bring their Motorized Tricycle Operator’s Permit (MTOP) and driver’s license during the scheduled validation come May 3 to 5. 

The mayor said the first batch of AICS beneficiaries are1, 300 pedicab drivers and operators from Route 7 and Route 9 will be validated.  

Evangelista said pre-validation of other tricycle drivers, and operators from Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 would follow and they will be receiving the same financial assistance after the AICS given to Route 7 and 9 members have been liquidated.

“Dako atong pasalamat sa kang Senator Bong Go kay tungod niya nakuha kita og paspas na financial assistance para katawhang Tomasino (A big thanks to Senator Bong Go because through him, we get an immediate financial assistance for our people),” Evangelista said. 

A representative from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be present to validate the 1,300 pedicab drivers and operators from Route 7 and Route 9. 

Evangelista added that there would be a separate date for the AICS pay-out which will be announced soon and the tentative venue would be at the Santo Tomas National High School Gymnasium. 

Previously, Lapiña personally negotiated the financial assistance to Go when he personally visited and provided assistance to the flood victims last February 20. 

She said the Evangelista administration is doing its best to tap help from various national government agencies and officials as such in the case of Go and DSWD to extend other forms of assistance to their constituents especially for the transport sector. 

Lapina, however, lamented what she described as “gross politicization” of the transport sector in Santo Tomas by those who are critical to the Evangelista administration in a desperate attempt to advance the political agenda of local officials and mayoral bets in the run-up of 2022 Presidential and local elections. 

But despite the politicization, Lapina said the Evangelista administration would continue to provide transparent, pro-people, and corrupt-free public services to the different sectors in Santo Tomas as the country is still grappling with the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She also urged the Municipal Tricycle Franchising and Regulatory Board (MTFRB) to resolve the long existing transport woes complained by some tricycle operators and drivers association such as the open route scheme and the issuance of the permits to operators owning more than one unit of tricycle, among others. 

“ It is high time that the Municipal Tricycle Franchising and Regulatory Board (MTFRB) should fix what is needed to be fixed so that the issues of our tricycle drivers and operators will be addressed properly,” Lapina said. 

The MTFRB is headed by Vice-Mayor Gabriel Estela who sits as the Chairman of the regulatory board along with Sangguniang Bayan Representative (Chairman, SB Committee on Transportation and Communication) headed by Councilor Ronald Dimaya. 

Meanwhile, Committee on Transportation and Communication Chair Councilor Ronald Dimaya thanked Go for extending assistance to the pedicab drivers and operators of Santo Tomas, saying the financial assistance is a big help to the transport sector. 

Dimaya said that he is working to amend the 2019 Traffic Ordinance which was enacted into law under the Batosalem administration. 

He said the amendment aims to fix the flawed provisions of the said ordinance which he described as “impractical” to implement.