Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has appealed anew to government banks to give a two-year grace period for the payment of the principal loan availed by public utility jeepney (PUJ) operators and drivers in modernizing their fleets.
She asked to let the drivers pay the interest first so they are able to recover from the impact of losing their livelihood for the past four months due to the pandemic.
The renewed appeal came after Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) officials failed to provide an update on her earlier request during their first meeting on July 9 at the Capitol.
In a follow-up meeting the governor called with PUJ operators and drivers on Friday, July 17, a new set of bank representatives attended the meeting and apparently the message was not properly relayed.
In her earlier meetings, Garcia had appealed for banks to adjust their loan guidelines to take into consideration the effects of the pandemic to drivers and operators.
Reports of drivers engaging in begging for food and assistance and others going hungry circulated in social media and have caught the attention of the governor.
Liloan Mayor and League of Municipalities (LMP) Cebu Chapter President Christina Frasco had brought to the attention of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) the need to allow jeepney drivers to resume operations to address their plight and address the lack of public transport as the province was placed on general community quarantine last May.
"Ato nalang hatagan og dunay 2-year grace period ang principal. Interest sa ang bayran aron ma-boost ang capacity nila nga maka derive sila og revenue," Garcia said.
In providing the grace period, payment terms will be extended to nine years instead of seven years. She also asked that interest rates be lowered from current rate of six and seven percent.
LBP and DBP are conduit banks of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) of the Duterte administration in extending financial assistance to transport cooperative groups. A P160,000 government equity is provided for those who qualify which is deducted from the total amount loaned from banks.
The governor also appealed for the banks, particularly DBP, to fasttrack the approval of the loan applications after it was found out during the meeting that at least four transport cooperatives in the province, who have submitted their applications since last year, still await approval.
"Og kamo, ayaw mog dugay-dugay kay everyday counts kay wa nani sila makaon. Make it as urgent as possible," Garcia said.
Landbank promised to process applications and get an approval within 45 to 60 days period.
DBP likewise assured to hasten the approval of the four pending applications.
Meanwhile, DBP has assured the governor that by Wednesday, July 22, the Capitol will be able to get a response on the request on the adjustment of loan payment and interest rate.
The meeting was participated by 5th District Representative Duke Frasco, his wife Mayor Frasco, LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto III, Land Transportation Office Central Visayas Director Victor Caindec, Board Member Red Duterte, Consolacion Mayor Johannes Alegado and Compostela Mayor Froilan Quiño.
Various transport cooperatives such as the Cebu Mepza Liloan Drivers and Operators Transport Cooperative, Pit-os Talamban Mandaue Transport Cooperative, Mandaue-Sabang Danao Multicab Drivers Operators-Multipurpose Cooperative and the Cebu People's Coop and Cebu CFI Community Cooperative also attended the meeting. (Vanessa L. Almeda)