EL NIDO, PALAWAN — Tricycle drivers in this town are disappointed at the single-rider policy imposed by the local government to make them adhere to physical distancing.
The drivers were reacting to Executive Order No. 20-059 issued by Mayor Edna Gacot-Lim which allows tricycles to operate only between 5 am to 6 pm.
“Nalulugi na kami sa gasolina, talagang kulang na kulang kaya kinakausap na lang namin ang aming pasahero kung papayag sila P20 ang pamasahe nila,” tricycle driver driver Risty Navarro told Palawan News.
Navarro said the P10 minimum fare they are allowed to charge to their single passengers are not enough for them to operate viably.
Tricycle driver Josh Mag-aro also bewailed the fact that they were not included in the list of qualified Social Amelioration Program (SAP) recipients.
He said their family members were also not qualified in the subsidy offered by the Department of Labore and Employment (DOLE).
“Tungkol sa cash aid hindi talaga kami nakatikim dito, bakit ang tricycle driver hindi kasali sa SAP pati sa DOLE, ano ba ang pinagkaiba namin dito sa lockdown? Apektado din kami sa hanapbuhay namin sana mapansin man lang nila ang mga drivers, boatmen, tour guides — hindi kami naayudahan ng cash talaga kumpara sa ibang probinsya,” Mag-aro said.
Mag-aro and Navarro said that since they have been allowed operate, they want to be able to charge adjusted fare.
Municipal Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman and vice mayor Luningning Batoy in an interview with Palawan News, meanwhile, explained that what they are doing is in accordance with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines on areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ).
She said they are only following the mandate of the national government.
Batoy said the Sangguniang Bayan also approved around P3 million worth of goods to assist boat captains, boatmen, boat helpers, and tour guides among others. The fund is from the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Meanwhile, Bacuit El Nido Travel and Tours Operators Association (BELTTOA) president Benly Lim also shared similar views, stating discomfort on the implementation of GCQ in town.
“Sa GCQ di pa rin ako napakampante dyan sa totoo lang we are still at risk, karamihan pa sa tourism sector like travel and tours kasama na boat operators, mga boat captain, helpers hindi naman nakatanggap ng ayuda pinansyal lalo na mula sa DOLE at DSWD na hinde ko din alam kung bakit hinde nag qualified ang ganitong sektor,” Lim said.
BELTTOA said there are 343 boat owners with 563 boats, 514 boat captains and 724 boat crews/helpers.