12-year PUJ driver recounts Covid ordeal before availing of BP2

NEGROS ORIENTAL-BOUND. Several beneficiary families of the Balik Probinsya program arrive during the dispatch procedure at multi-purpose court 1, BP2 depot, Quezon City on Thursday (Nov. 18, 2021). A total of 28 individual beneficiaries will return to Negros Oriental.(PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – A public utility jeep (PUJ) driver for 12 years, who is one of the latest beneficiaries of the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) Program, on Thursday recounted the challenges he and his family faced during the pandemic.

As the transportation industry took a massive hit at the onset of Covid-19, Ruben Docto, 37, said he was forced to hunker down at home due to pandemic-induced restrictions.

Nangungupahan lang kami ng bahay tapos napuno kami sa utang sa tindahan kasi wala nang makain at tigil pasada na (We are only renting our place here and we were buried in debt. We had no food to eat since the pandemic affected public transport use),” he said in an interview.

After the government stopped public transportation and imposed a strict pandemic lockdown, he said he hopped from one job to another just to make ends meet and put food on the table.

Kung ano-ano na ang pinasok ko nung nagtigil-pasada. Pumasok ako sa construction, pero hindi naman sapat ang kinikita at hindi pangmatagalan (I entered into various jobs after public transportation grounded to a halt. I went into construction work, but the pay was not enough and it was not a long-term job),” he said.

Upon his return to Negros Oriental, Docto said he plans to avail of the skills training offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as well as other opportunities for his family to start anew.

He also called for the continuity of the program, which has been leading the charge in helping Filipinos in Metro Manila return to the provinces and have a fresh start.

Dapat ituloy ito kasi maraming natutulungan ang Balik Probinsya tulad ng mga mahihirap gaya ko na isang kahig isang tuka (The program should be continued because it has already helped many people, especially those like me who just have enough to get by),” he said.

Docto is among the 28 beneficiaries bound for Negros Oriental who underwent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests on Nov. 18 at the BP2 Depot in Quezon City to ensure that they are not infected with Covid-19.

Institutionalized under Executive Order 114, series of 2020, the BP2 program is an initiative of the national government created to address the congestion in Metro Manila's urban areas.

Government agencies guide the beneficiaries throughout this transition by providing additional support and incentives on transportation, livelihood, family needs, subsistence, education, housing, and others. (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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