With two children, aged 12 and five years old, life has never been this hard for female tricycle driver, Kiell Sebastian, of Barangay MS Garcia.
“Sobrang hirap. Wala kaming panggastos araw-araw (It is too difficult. We do not have money for our daily expenses),” Sebastian said even as she, like some tricycle drivers, plies the streets of the city with a special permit under a less strict community quarantine.
“Kahit pumapasada na po ay wala, kakaunti naman ang pasahero ngayon (Even though we are plying, there are only a few passengers nowadays),” she said as she noted that their average income since June has been PHP200.
Alfredo Padilla, a senior citizen who operates a public utility jeepney from the city to Gen. Tinio town under Papaya Transport Service. Inc. said he earns PHP400 every other day amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We used to earn PHP1,300 a day, Padilla said. “Napakalaking epekto sa amin ng pandemyang ito. (This pandemic has a big effect on us),” he said.
Sebastian and Padilla are among the members of the public transport sector adversely affected by the Covid-19 crisis, who benefited from the 738 Kalinga food packs distributed by the SM Foundation Inc. (SMFI) and SM City Cabanatuan on Tuesday.
The beneficiaries were from Papaya Transport Services Inc., Zaragoza Ramstar Transport, Bojoda Prime Movers Cooperative, Rapok Joda Cabanatuan, Quezon JODA Inc., Peñaranda Cabanatuan City Operators, and Drivers Association, Cabanatuan City Loop Service Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association, Inc. and SM City Cabanatuan TODA Inc.
The Kalinga packs—each containing five kilos of rice and food essentials— are seen to support the local drivers and their families.
This effort forms part of Operation Tulong Express (OPTE), a social good program of SM Foundation, in collaboration with SM Supermalls and SM Markets, to address the needs of communities during calamities and crises.
Sebastian said the gift packs will ensure her family of at least six days of food. “Napakalaking tulong po nito sa amin (It helped us a lot),” she said.
Nelson Santos, manager of the North Luzon Terminal, meanwhile, said all public health protocols are being observed in their terminals as 95 percent of transportation from the city to other areas in the province are already operational.
He said they have also prepared for the Meycauayan, Bulacan route which is expected to open any time after President Rodrigo Duterte placed the National Capital Region and neighboring provinces under general community quarantine beginning August 19.
“Nakasanayan na rin ng mga commuters natin ang ipinatutupad nating health protocols (Our commuters get used to the health protocols we are implementing),” Santos said even as he underscored the standards set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Source: Philippines News Agency