MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said protests would not stop the implementation of the jeepney modernization program.
Tugade’s statement came after the group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) cancelled its two-day nationwide transport strike, following the plea of Senate public services committee chair Grace Poe.
Asked if the program would continue despite protests, Tugade said: “Tuloy yun… Tuloy yung modernization. Sabi ng Presidente eh, bakit may tanong pang ganun?” (It will push through. The modernization will push through. The President already said it, why is there still such a question?)
Tugade said groups can hold demonstrations but they, too, should follow the law and what will be more beneficial to the public.
“You can do protest actions but you must follow the law. You can do protest actions but you must give importance to the benefit of the majority, that the essence of democracy,” Tugade said.
In a press briefing on Sunday, December 3, Piston said it is heeding Poe’s appeal for the cancellation and would instead voice out concerns during a Senate hearing, where Tugade was also invited.
But the meeting of the two camps, originally scheduled on Thursday, December 7, would not push through and has to be rescheduled to Monday, December 11.
Poe told reporters on Monday that Tugade asked for a reset because he is supposedly not available on Thursday.
“Hindi ko siya pinakawalan eh. ‘Bigyan nyo ko ng petsa kung hindi kayo pwede ng Thursday.’ Sabi nya Lunes daw available siya kaya itutuloy ang public hearing,” she added. (I did not let him off the hook. I told him ‘give me a date if you are not available on Thursday.’ He said he’s available on Monday so the public hearing will continue.)
The government is set to phase out “deterioriated” public utility vehicles (PUVs) in 2018, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for jeepneys to modernize by the end of the year.
The PUV modernization program mandates the phasing out of jeepneys aged 15 years and older and the replacing of non-Euro-4 compliant engines with the new models prescribed by the government. Around 180,000 jeepneys need to be replaced, transport officials said.
But jeepney operators and drivers have argued that PUV modernization would lead to a loss of jobs, and are asking the government to junk the program. – Rappler.com