A SENATOR on Wednesday pushed the government to pull together at least P5 billion to continue the transport service contracting program for the benefit of both public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and commuters amid rising fuel costs.  

Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel noted that there is still P3 billion in unreleased funds allocated for the transport sector under the pandemic response law.  

“It is also necessary to find additional funds that can match the allocation for service contracting found in Bayanihan II that was only wasted,” she said in Filipino. “Drivers need to be paid on time and enough for this system to be of benefit.”  

Meanwhile, the Transportation department denied on Wednesday the allegation that its attached agency, the Philippine National Railways (PNR), had procured “overpriced” pandemic-related items from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.  

Ms. Hontiveros told the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing Tuesday that PNR paid rates that were above its price catalogue. 

The Transport department, in a statement, said the emergency procurement of critical items for the use of its personnel had no irregularities. “PNR is most ready to present or submit the necessary documentary proofs of its small value procurement, such as relevant market studies or canvasses at that time, as needed.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan