Amid the public outcry over the series of road mishaps involving public utility vehicles (PUV) in the country, a lawmaker has filed two measures seeking to provide PUV drivers with better training and compensation.
Senate Bill 1378, or the proposed “Comprehensive Assistance Program for Public Utility Vehicle Drivers Act” proposed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada requires all PUV drivers to undergo a continuous training program to be provided by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in coordination with the Department of Transportation and Communications.
The said training program aims to enhance PUV drivers’ basic and advanced driving competencies, knowledge of maintenance procedures, driving preparation, post-driving procedure, road safety rules and accident response procedures.
Besides skills development, SB 1378 also seeks to place all public utility bus drivers under the coverage of the Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance System, Home Development Mutual Fund and Employees Compensation Commission.
Estrada also seeks to implement a livelihood and credit assistance program under the Land Transportation Office in coordination with the Cooperative Development Authority “to improve their [PUV drivers’] socioeconomic condition.”
Estrada believes that by arming PUV drivers with the right skills and attitude on the road, accidents can be prevented, if not, reduced.
Meanwhile, Estrada is also pushing for the institutionalization of fixed monthly salaries and better working conditions for public utility bus drivers, in an effort to promote road safety, improve traffic flow and prevent deadly road accidents.
Senate Bill 1372, or the “Bus Drivers and Conductors Compensation Program,” aims to provide PUV drivers monthly salaries of not less than the prevailing minimum wage rate with benefits and incentives.
Estrada, who heads the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, said that under the current boundary and commission-based compensation system, bus drivers try to outdo and compete with each other to draw as many passengers as possible to ensure a decent daily take-home pay for their families.
The senator believes that the current compensation setup for drivers breeds a number of inconvenient and unsafe travel conditions for road users such as lanes being clogged because of the indiscriminate loading of passengers, buses exceeding speed limits and drivers stretching work hours for extra pay, among others.
“A simple computation will show that drivers currently earning P900 a day and working more than 12 hours a day for three days a week will receive almost the same income based on the minimum wage for working eight hours a day for six days a week. The difference is that under the proposed act, drivers will get enough rest while operators will spend almost the same amount for salaries,” said Estrada.
Violators of the law shall be meted out a fine of P100,000 to P200,000 and suspension of their franchise to operate.
The Department of Labor and Employment in 2012 issued DOLE Order 118-12 requiring bus companies to be “labor law-compliant” before being issued a franchise by the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). However, only a few bus companies complied with the order.
Safety performance bond
Also, in a bid to curb the occurrence of deadly road mishaps, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Sunday pushed for the imposition of a safety performance bond to enforce discipline and accountability among bus drivers and operators.
Emerson Carlos, MMDA assistant general manager for operations, said there are erring bus and even truck drivers who merely shrug off their violations.
“Citing a case in point, we apprehended drivers who violated the truck ban rule. Some continue to violate the rule and just opt to pay the P500 fine,” Carlos told the agency’s radio program.
He said that the posting of a bond could compel drivers to be more responsible and careful when driving.
MMDA chairperson Francis Tolentino proposed the measure to the LTFRB following the deadly road mishap involving a bus of Don Mariano Transit Corp. which plunged off the Skyway on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx).
Tolentino said that the bond for each bus would be forfeited once it is involved in an accident.
WITH A REPORT FROM RITCHIE A. HORARIO