BAYAN Muna partylist representative Carlos Isagani Zarate urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Monday, February 27, to junk the jeepney phase out plan in the country.
Zarate issued the statement in support to the transport strike held by several transport organizations in Manila, Cebu City, Cagayan de Oro City, and other areas of the country on Monday.
He said that at the current state of the transport system, with narrow streets and alleys where buses can hardly fit, public utility jeepneys (PUJs) are the most suited to transport people from the side streets to main thoroughfares.
"It would be a big blow to our economy if the government phases out these PUJs in the absence of the efficient mass transport system," Zarate said.
The representative said it is the PUJs that fill the void of an affordable mass transportation for millions of commuters.
He added that the government can help the PUJ drivers and operators to upgrade and modernize their vehicles, but not to the extent of having to form big corporations that would kill small operators and drivers.
"The government can also invest in the jeepney industry to re-establish the likes of Sarao motors," he said.
The Sarao motors, or passenger jeepneys, are the most popular form of transportation in the country regarded as the "King of the Road." These are the custom-built vehicles with boxy construction and iconic metal horses on the hood.
Zarate appealed to the government and to the DOTr to reconsider and not kill PUJs, which is not just a Philippine icon, but a source of livelihood for many people.