PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday that the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) should be done with thorough consultations with stakeholders, as the threat of a weeklong transport strike looms.
“Sa issue sa modernization na sinasabi, sa aking palagay ay kailangan ding gawin talaga 'yan. Ngunit sa pag-aaral ko, parang hindi maganda ang naging implementation nung modernization (On the issue of modernization, I think we should do that. However, based on my study, I don't think the law was implemented well),” Marcos told reporters at Rizal Park in Manila.
“Tingnan natin. Siguro kaya natin kausapin ang mga transport groups at sabihin natin hindi, babaguhin talaga namin para hindi masyadong mabigat sa bulsa ng bawat isa (Let's see, I think we can talk to transport groups and tell them that we will modify the manner of implementation to lessen the program's financial impact on all parties involved),” he added.
The President said refurbishing, not phaseout, might be a better option for some vehicles.
“What if the driver takes good care of his jeep? Then he can still use it as long as it's still safe,” he added.Marcos said he hopes that his proposed initiatives could convince drivers and operators not to go on strike.
“Kawawa talaga ang tao at marami pang naghihirap at mas lalo pang maghihirap 'pag hindi makapasok sa trabaho (The people will suffer. They are already suffering and will suffer more if they can't report to work),” he added.
Transport groups earlier announced their plan to hold a weeklong strike starting March 6, to protest the impending phaseout of traditional PUVs like the jeepney as the government implements the PUV modernization program that aims to use vehicles powered by more environment-friendly fuels.
Under the program, operators and drivers of traditional jeepneys can apply for new franchises only as part of transport cooperatives after their franchises expire on June 30.
Marcos is yet to announce if the June 30 phaseout of old PUVs will push through.
The President earlier admitted that the country is not yet ready for a complete shift to electric vehicles since only 30 percent of its power source1 is renewable. Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero urged the government to check reports that some electric vehicles are “breakdown-prone.
“Escudero added that some of these modern jeepneys “have been grounded for lack of spare parts.”
“We have been sold lemons. So how can these be modern jeepneys when they conk out after a few years? How can they be better replacements of sturdy 30-year-old jeeps?” the senator said, citing his experience as Sorsogon governor wherein electronic vehicles procured for cooperatives have become unusable after two years.
DoTr belies jeepney phaseout Meanwhile, the chief of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) on Wednesday refuted claims that the old public utility jeepneys (PUJs) will be phased out by June 30 as it calls for a dialogue with the transport groups to address the issues on government's Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.
“Alam niyo po 'yung phaseout ng old equipment 'di pa naman i-implement 'yan by June 30. 'Yong deadline na binigay namin doon sa mga jeepney operator ay 'yong deadline to consolidate as a cooperative or as a corporation,” Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista told reporters. “So, hindi ibig sabihin na by June 30, dapat meron ng bagong equipment. Kaya nga gusto namin sila makausap, gusto namin ng dialogue para ma-explain namin 'yong the whole program ng ating modernization,” he added. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) earlier issued Memorandum Circular 2023-013 which gives PUV operators only until June 30, 2023, to join an existing consolidated entity, or else their certificate of public convenience will be revoked.
Bautista also said that the agency is open to extending the franchise of old traditional jeepneys beyond December 31 to ensure that there will be enough supply of PUVs to serve the public.
“Kawawa naman ang mga pasahero natin kung basta na lang titigil 'yong operation ng mga lumang sasakyan pero wala naman kapalit. Kaya nga ang implementation niyan [PUVMP] merong different phases. Ito ang gusto naming ipakiusap sa mga grupong ito na pagusapan natin and kailangan talagang magkaintindihan lang,” he added. In a related development, LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz 3rd said that the agency will extend the June 30 deadline for PUJ operators to form cooperatives to December 31 this year. “We are coming out with a new memorandum circular extending the deadline to December 31, 2023,” he added. Guadiz said the provisional authority of PUJs that will expire on June 30 will be extended until December 31 this year. “To be honest there is no pressure for us for this strike because more than 90 percent of the transport groups have signified their support to the program of the LTFRB,” he added. “In deference to the Senate resolution of Sen. Grace Poe and to the request of the secretary of the Department of Transportation, we will be extending the deadline to allow the transport sector more time to consolidate,” he added.
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