Northbound Philippines News

Recovery program to benefit displaced drivers in Ilocos Norte

LAOAG CITY – Public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers in the province who were displaced by the health crisis are excited to be back on the streets as they try to embrace the “new normal” with the help of the provincial government.

For Derick Asuncion, 35, of Barangay San Guillermo, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, driving all types of vehicles has been his way of life ever since he was first employed as a bus driver for more than a decade now.

Being on the road while seated in front of the steering wheel earns him a living as he makes sure daily commuters get to their destination safe and sound.

“Driving makes me feel alive and it has sustained me and my family’s needs over the years. Then Covid-19 came. I don’t know if we can (be) back to normal again,” Asuncion said in an interview on Tuesday.

He said he has been unemployed for more than four months now since the start of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last March.

Asuncion is just among the hundreds of displaced drivers in the province who are struggling to make ends meet in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

They are now, however, seeing light at the end of the tunnel through a recovery program of the Metro Ilocos Norte Council (MINC) under the provincial government of Ilocos Norte.

Lawyer Nikki Pilar, resource person of MINC, said in an interview on Monday that their office is launching the program for PUV drivers in the province who were displaced during the ECQ.

“The program will (be a) partnership between the provincial government and delivery service entities in Ilocos Norte in which they will employ the displaced PUV drivers as delivery riders,” Pilar said.

As of this writing, displaced jeepney and trike drivers who wished to avail of the program were queuing up for registration at the Capitol.

To qualify, applicants must be aged 21 years to 60 years, in good health, and physically fit to work.

She said a memorandum of agreement is being prepared between the delivery entities and the provincial government for the employment of the drivers who would serve as riders in various parts of the province.

Due to limited mobility caused by the community quarantine measures, door-to-door delivery services have become in demand so people could access food and non-food without leaving their homes.

Pilar said there would be a schedule for each driver to deliver an item to a customer and he would earn on a commission basis. Leilanie Adriano / PNA – northboundasia,com

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