Probe into DOTr PUV modernization program sought

MANILA-- A senator on Tuesday sought for a probe into the recently-launched public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program after it was met with protests from transport groups calling for the deferment of its implementation.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, made this call noting that it is necessary for the government to allay fears of the public transport sector by ensuring that adequate social protection measures for drivers and operators are in place.

"While the PUV modernization program is integral to the traffic management solution of the country, there is an urgent need to thoroughly assess the impact of the program on the sustainability of jeepney operations that serve the vast majority of Filipino public commuters," Angara said in a statement.

"Jeepneys remain the most affordable and accessible mode of transport in our country -- providing livelihood to thousands of micro-operators and drivers, he added.

On Monday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) launched the program which seeks to upgrade vehicles to meet safety, energy efficiency and emission standards through overhauling of the public transportation system.

It is also meant to gradually phase out old and dilapidated jeepneys, operating for 15 years or more, and replace them with environment-friendly vehicles equipped with more efficient engines, such as Euro 4 engines or electrically powered engines with solar panels for roofs.

Drivers, however, sought to defer the implementation as they could not afford to finance the conversion of jeepneys to solar-powered vehicles.

Dapat ay mabigyan sila ng sapat na tulong pinansyal para sila ay makasunod sa modernisasyon. Dahil talaga pong umaalma ang mga tsuper at malilit na operators sa pangambang mawawalan sila ng hanapbuhay kapag tuluyan nang ipagbawal ang pagbyahe ng mga lumang jeepney," Angara said.

(They should be given enough financial support so they can follow modernization. Drivers and small-time operators are complaining because of the fear that they will lose their livelihood if they prohibit the use of old jeepneys.)

Meanwhile, the Department of Finance (DOF) earlier said that part of the incremental revenues that will be collected from the proposed increase in excise taxes on oil will go the PUV modernization program to subsidize the conversion of jeepneys to more efficient engines and bodies.

Another major component of the PUV modernization program is the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, which requires local government units (LGUs) to develop a transport route plan based on passenger demand and the existing local road network, which will serve as basis for franchise issuance.

Drivers will be provided with regular monthly salaries and benefits, instead of the prevailing boundary system, as well as reduced working hours. There will also be training and capacity building programs set up for PUV drivers and operators.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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