MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation’s proposed 2019 budget might hit a snag in Congress if it fails to address the issues involving its jeepney modernization program.
Senate public services committee chair Grace Poe said she is not against the program but said the government must fix the process because around 600,000 drivers would be affected. (IN PHOTOS: How new jeepneys, buses, tricycles could look like)
“‘Yun ang mga bagay na dapat sagutin nila sa amin at kung hindi nila magagawa yun ay talagang magkakaproblema sila pagdating ng kanilang budget,” Poe told reporters on Monday, August 27, after the Transport Unity Summit in Manila, where she was guest speaker.
(These are the things they must answer for us, and if they fail to do that, they will really have a problem when it comes to their 2019 budget.)
“Ngayon nasa kapangyarihan ng Kongreso at Senado na gawin ‘yan. Siyempre ayaw naman natin gawin na basta iipitin ang budget dahil maraming apektado pero kailangan muna nilang patunayan ang kanilang sarili na sa tamang paraan nila ginagasta ang pera na pinapamahagi ng taumbayan,” she added.
(Now, it’s within Congress’ powers to do that. But of course, we do not want to just put the budget in jeopardy because many people will be affected. But they have to prove that they are spending the money in the right way.)
Poe said she would question the DOTr during budget hearings in the Senate on how it would implement the program. She said the P80,000 assistance is hardly enough, as modern jeepneys cost from P1.2 million to P1.8 million.
“Kapag nag-budget [hearing] tayo tatanungin natin ang DOTr: Alam mo yung binibigay ninyong [ayuda] na P80,000 per driver ay parang kulang naman yata yun…Iti-trade-in [ang sasakyan] pero parang P80,000 lang ang kapalit,” Poe said.
(When we start the budget hearings, we will ask the DOTr: Do you know that the P80,000 assistance you give per driver is not enought. They will trade-in their vehicles but they will only get P80,000 in exchange.)
“Kapag nagkansela sila ng mga ruta, anong kapalit nun at paano naman sila makakabili ng jeep na P1.2 million hanggang P1.8 million kung ang ibibigay mo lang ay P80,000 na pang-downpayment?” she said.
(How can they buy jeepneys worth P1.2 million to P1.8 million when you are only giving P80,000 as downpayment?)
Under the proposed 2019 budget, DOTr will receive an allocation of P76.1 billion, 89.3% higher than its 2018 budget of P40.2 billion.
Poe also said she would question the agency on the delay of the Pantawid Pasada Program, one of the government;s social mitigating measures aimed to ease the effect of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law on jeepney drivers.
The PUV modernization program mandates the phasing out of jeepneys aged 15 years and older and the replacement 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 for being “anti-poor.”
Transportation groups have also held several transport strikes opposing the plan. – Rappler.com