A commuter-consumer advocacy group today urged the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Duterte administration to order the re-opening of provincial bus routes in Luzon and the Visayas following the flattening of the infection curve and for the revival of the economy in the country.
In a statement, Pilipino Society Development Advocates (PASADA CC) convenor Atty. Argee Guevarra says that it is highly essential for the revitalization of the economy to allow the free movement of people and flow of capital from the National Capital Region (NCR) to different provinces in Luzon and the Visayas. Guevarra says the economy is mostly composed of small and medium sized enterprises involved in the retail business. Provinces need fresh and new revenues coming from tourists and visitors from the metropolitan areas.
After the stoppage of provincial operations, economists saw the fast downslide of the local economies dependent on raw materials and people movement. Guevarra says most SME’s especially from Northern Luzon need provincial buses as their freight and delivery conduits. Without the buses, the economy of North Luzon especially Pangasinan and La Union registered the lowest GDP rates since 1993.
Buses are not allowed to fully operate by the IATF, causing thousands of people without jobs and livelihood. Due to the strict lockdowns, Guevarra says whole industries were affected, and not just loss of jobs. The Department of Labor and Employment or DOLE reported a 17% hike in unemployment rates, that experts doubted and some even says that figures are much higher than what was reported.