THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) refuted claims that they are favoring China-made mini-buses to replace traditional jeepneys under the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).
In a radio interview, Jesus Ferdinand Ortega Jr., chairman of the DOTr-Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC), said they “never” indicated any brand that transport cooperatives should acquire in order to comply with the PUVMP policy.
“Sa parte ng DOTr, dito sa akin sa OTC (On the part of DOTr-OTC), we never said na dapat (it should be) made in China. Lagi po naming sinasabi, nasa kamay ng mga kooperatiba, ng mga korporasyon, ang pamimili ng modern vehicles (The decision is up to the cooperatives and corporations). It’s their choice, maraming (there are many) choices,” he said.
“Walang nakalagay na dapat made in China. Pati ‘yung design, wala ring nakalagay na dapat minibus. ‘Yung design depende sa manufacturer, depende sa kooperatiba kung ano ang gusto nilang piliin… Meron kaming bagong guidelines, kalalabas, ine-encourage namin na magkaroon ng iconic jeepney design ‘yung mga vehicle. Hindi namin silang mapepwersa, but we do encourage them,” he added.
(It doesn’t say that it should be made in China, even the design doesn’t say that it should be a minibus. The design depends on the manufacturer. It depends on the cooperative what they want to choose... We have new guidelines. We are encouraging vehicles to have an iconic jeepney design. We cannot force them, but we do encourage them.)
Ortega said such claims could have been made by groups that are against the PUVMP.
LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III made a similar statement on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024.
“The government has no say kung ano ang unit na bibilhin nila at kung saang bansa ito manggagaling,” he said.
(The government has no say on what unit they will buy and which country it will come from.)
“Pwede po silang bumili ng locally made or from Japan, or China, o kahit ano pang bansa. Basta ang cooperatives po ang masusunod diyan at hindi ang pamahalaan,” he added, noting that it should be among the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-approved manufacturers.
(They can buy locally made or from Japan, or China, or any other country. The cooperative has the say, not the government.)
In a statement, House Speaker Martin Romualdez urged the House Committee on Transportation to conduct a motu propio investigation on reports that corrupt practices may have tainted the conceptualization and planned implementation of the PUVMP.
He said his office received reports that several transport officials are in cahoots with previous officials in negotiating for the imported modern jeepney units.
Romualdez also urged the DOTr to review the modernization program and extend the period of its implementation for the benefit of the drivers.
In 2017, DOTr Department Order 2017-011 or the PUVMP provided the omnibus guidelines on the identification of public road transportation services, indicating that for public utility jeepneys, the vehicle should be below seven meters in length; door locations should allow boarding and alighting only from the curbside, not from the rear; and that the vehicle be equipped with free Wi-Fi, CCTV, and automatic fare collection system in highly urbanized independent cities.
Under the PUVMP, operators and drivers are required to replace their jeepneys with vehicles fitted with Euro-4 compliant engines, which cost around P1.5 million to P2.7 million, as part of efforts to make an environment-friendly transport system in the country.
It also includes the mandatory franchise consolidation of PUVs, which requires jeepney drivers and operators to operate under a cooperative for the approval of their provisional authority (PA) for franchise. The deadline was set on Dec. 31, 2023. The LTFRB said 145,721 units or 76 percent of public utility vehicles and UV express in the country have consolidated before the deadline.