THE Department of Transportation and Railways in the Cordillera has urged jeepney operators to undergo the gradual phase-out of public utility vehicles under the loaning program being offered by the government.

DOTR-CAR Assistant Regional Director Mohammed Nasser Abbas said that under the omnibus franchise guidelines, prospective operators will have the opportunity to use imported quality Euro-4 engine jeepneys through a six-percent loan payment interest program.

To date, some banking institutions have offered the government a three-percent interest loan payment aside from the offer of the Development Bank of the Philippines.

"Compared to some operators having private vehicles with a 14 percent interest, the acquisition of Euro-4 engine jeepneys at a lower interest rate will benefit not only the operators, but the rising public as well," Abbas said.

Earlier, some transport sector representatives in the city asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to withdraw Baguio City from the list of areas considered to be pilot areas for the eventual total phase-out of old jeepney units since the operators and drivers are still not ready for the phase-out.

"Baguio City is not a pilot area since the simultaneous implementation of the total phase-out of old jeepneys will be done in the different city of the regions in the country. They wanted Baguio as one of the major cities to undergo with the modernization to know how these Euro-4 engine units would perform in mountainous terrains, aside from helping the environment," Abbas said.

DOTr Secretary Art Tugade received a letter coming from the jeepney operators and drivers association in Baguio appealing to the department to temporarily delay the implementation of the modernization program in the city.

"What is good with the secretary is he accepts opinions of the majority in terms of the modernization of PUV's, but his focus is for the Philippines to catch up with its neighboring countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei where they are equip with modern facilities like Global Positioning Tracking System provides information of its fare matrix to would be passengers aside from the safety features it presents," Abbas added.