Government urged: Study PUV modernization program more amid consolidation extension

Government urged: Study PUV modernization program more amid consolidation extension
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LAWMAKERS urged concerned government agencies to review the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program in light of the three-month extension given to drivers/operators to comply with the consolidation policy.

In a statement on Thursday, January 25, 2024, Senate committee on public services chairperson Senator Grace Poe said the three-month extension imposed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in order for driver/operators to join or put up a cooperative should be utilized for the conduct of a thorough review of the program to see its gains and better understand the defiance of some groups.

She noted the high cost of the new vehicles seen to replace the traditional Filipino jeepneys as a “big stumbling block” to the rollout of modernization that should not be ignored.

“Reports of idle units and missed amortization payments by some consolidated groups must be looked into to see the viability of the program. Transport officials should also be open to low cost alternatives such as rehabilitation of jeepneys that are roadworthy to make them environmentally-compliant,” said Poe.

“Modernization is not just about consolidation and throwing to the junkyard our iconic jeepneys. It should be about rejuvenating our transportation landscape to make it safer and more reliable to our commuters, and at the same time sustainable to our drivers and operators,” she added.

Senator Imee Marcos also welcomed the three-month extension as she raised the need for a plan that is justifiable and acceptable to operators, drivers, and the riding-public.

“Ito ay isang magandang hakbang patungo sa tamang direksyon. Gayunpaman, ang karagdagang oras na ito ay dapat gamitin hindi lamang para payagan ang mga jeepney driver na sumailalim sa consolidation, kundi para makahanap ng mas magandang solusyon upang payagan ang ating mga jeepney driver at mga may-ari ng jeep na magpatuloy sa kanilang kabuhayan,” she said.

(This is a good step in ensuring that we are in the right direction. However, this additional time should be used not only to allow jeepney drivers to undergo consolidation, but to find a better solution to allow our jeepney drivers and jeep owners to continue with their livelihood.)

Instead of imposing a phase-out on traditional Filipino jeepneys, Marcos proposed to subject existing units to retrofitting in order to improve their engines, require the use of clean fuel and to elevate the standard for safe driving.

Marcos also urged the government to invest in infrastructure, improve the system for mass transit to avoid traffic jams and to establish alternatives such as using electric hybrid vehicles or bikes, carpooling and renewable fuel.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista assured that there will no longer be another extension for the consolidation of the jeepneys after April 30, 2024.

The three-month extension order by Marcos was the eighth time that the deadline was called off.

“After yesterday’s (Wednesday, January 24) special Cabinet meeting, the President and I have a chance to discuss the program and the clamor for an extension. Our recommendation for an extension was based on the number of unconsolidated drivers and operators especially here in the National Capital Region. An extension will allow them to meet the consolidation requirement,” Bautista said in an interview with reporters.

“Maraming lumalapit sa amin… Ang sabi nila hindi nila masyadong naintindihan yung programa but then ay naiintindihan na nila at willing na silang mag-consolidate, so yun ang hinahabol namin, yung hindi willing mag-consolidate siguro yun ang hindi nagsusuporta sa programa natin,” he added.

(Many people come to us... They say they didn't understand the program very well but then, they understand and are willing to consolidate, so that's what we're chasing, those who are not willing to consolidate may be the ones who don't support our program.)

Bautista said that at present, 76 percent of PUVs in the country have already been consolidated and they expect to reach 85 percent compliance following the three-month extension.

Those who will fail to comply with the consolidation policy will be considered colorum. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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