Senator Alan Peter Cayetano urged Department of Transportation ad interim Secretary Jaime Bautista to bring his expertise in private-sector management into the country’s transport department, saying the Filipino people “have had enough excuses” about delays in the agency’s programs.
He said this as he asked why the department has not fully distributed fuel subsidies to tricycle drivers, with only around 6,000 nationwide having received fuel subsidies from the P2.5 billion earmarked by the department to aid transport operators reeling from high fuel costs.
“We want the Jaime Bautista who was in the private sector, dapat y’ung pagka-private sector executive mo, ma-imbibe ng DOTr, hindi y’ung usual red tape ng gobyerno ay maapektuhan si Jaime Bautista today,” Cayetano said during the Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing on December 7, 2022.
The independent senator and CA minority leader responded strongly to Bautista’s claim that delays in the distribution of fuel subsidies to tricycle drivers were due to the unavailability of masterlists of registered tricycle drivers in some local governments, as well as the inability of some drivers to accept disbursements via e-wallet applications.
“Sec, magpalit tayo ng posisyon. Ikaw ang senador, ako ang secretary, do you want to hear excuses or solutions?” Cayetano asked Bautista.
“I know you’re mild mannered and that’s why you are answering that way, but for me people are fed up with excuses,” he added.
Cayetano explained that obtaining lists of driver-beneficiaries and implementing workarounds for faster distribution of fuel subsidies – including manually distributing cash aid if beneficiaries do not have e-wallet accounts – could easily be done by district representatives and should thus be easy for the transport department to do as well.
“Ask any congressman here, bigay niyo y’ung pera, tomorrow, idi-distribute namin ‘yan sa lahat ng tricycle driver so whatever is more convenient, kung mas convenient na GCash, Palawan Express or whatever or kung mas convenient kung manu-mano, we will give it,” he said.
The senator also questioned why transport officials often bring up the lack of a database for driver-beneficiaries at the local government level when tricycle and jeepney operators-and-drivers associations (TODAs and JODAs) are among the most robustly organized trade groups in the country.
“So for the last six months, nababasa na ng mga tao sa dyaryo na may fuel subsidy pero ang tricycle driver wala. Eh ang pinaka-organized (transport groups) sa Pilipinas ang TODA. JODA is also organized but ang TODA ay very highly organized, so it will be very easy to distribute,” Cayetano said.
“Ang point ko, if every single time na lang na mag-announce ang presidente o gobyerno na may subsidy at sasabihan kami ng DOTr, wala kayong listahan diba, para naman tayong mga lokong nag-uusap dito,” he added.
Cayetano reminded Bautista that the DOTr cannot pass the buck of obtaining lists of tricycle driver-beneficiaries to either the Land Transportation Office (LTO) or the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) because the regulation of tricycle drivers and operators has long been delegated to municipal and city governments.
The senator urged Bautista to compile and present to the CA a list of tricycle driver-beneficiaries who have yet to receive fuel subsidies by next week, as the department still has a balance of P100 million in undistributed aid
“I’m not comfortable confirming someone who will give us excuses… So either you can get the list or not. Y’un lang ang point Sec ‘no, kailangang ganun lang y’ung ating attitude sa gobyerno kasi kung hindi, made-delay nang made-delay ‘yan,” Cayetano said.