MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will postpone the implementation of the total phaseout of public utility vehicles (PUV) originally set for March 2019. (READ: IN PHOTOS: How new jeepneys, buses, tricycles could look like)
Senate public services committee chairperson Senator Grace Poe said this on Monday, October 8, after the hearing on the government’s PUV modernization program, which mandates the phasing out of jeepneys and buses aged 15 years and older and the replacement of non-Euro-4 compliant engines with new models prescribed by the government.
Poe said this was the decision of LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III, following stiff opposition from senators and transport groups. (READ: DOTr may face budget roadblock over jeepney modernization woes)
“Narinig na natin mismo kay Chairman Delgra na ipagpapaliban nila ‘yon kasi ito muna – hindi pa nga malinaw kung papaano makaka-utang ng pera ‘yung mga drayber para makakuha ng bagong sasakyan. Hindi rin malinaw kung ano ba talaga ang magiging requirement para doon sa sasakyan nila. Sa ngayon, hindi pa handa ang gobyerno, mawawalan ng masasakyan ang ating mga kababayan at mawawalan din ng trabaho ang marami,” Poe told reporters in an interview.
(We already heard it straight from Chairman Delgra that they will delay it for now because it is not yet clear how drivers can afford to get new vehicles. The requirements for the vehicles are also not clear. Right now, the government is not ready. Many of our fellowmen will lose public transport while others will lose their jobs.)
“‘Yun ang sinabi ni Chairman Delgra ngayon, na talagang hindi pa handa ang gobyerno na i-phaseout ‘yan. So in principle, sinabi na niya na hindi puwede o hindi pa dapat maging total phaseout pagdating ng Marso,” Poe added. (That’s what Chairman Delgra said, that the government is not yet ready for a phaseout. So in principle, he said that the total phaseout in March could not and should not be implemented yet.)
Aside from Poe, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto questioned the LTFRB for the seemingly problematic program.
“Right now, hindi ko nakikita na mangyayari ang modernization by March. Marami ho talagang ‘di malinaw na patakaran (I don’t see that the modernization will happen by March. There are still a lot of rules to be clarified),” Aquino told the LTFRB during the hearing.
Recto called on the government to open the program to those who are willing and capable, citing the huge costs for drivers and operators.
“Sapilitan at ‘di maliwanag na napag-isipan. Una, ang pagka-alam natin dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina at spare parts, pagbagsak ng piso, tumataas ang costs ng lahat ng jeepney drivers and owners. At laging ang problema ay ang kabagalan ng LTFRB na magtaas ng presyo ng pamasahe. Laging huli,” Recto said.
(This is being forced and it’s not well thought-out. First, because of the rising prices of gas and spare parts and the decline of the peso, the costs for jeepney drivers and owners are also rising. And there is the perennial problem with the LTFRB’s slow action on fare hike. Always late.)
“Pangalawa, itong jeepney modernization program, matinding gastos yan. Pinipilit natin silang bumili ng mas mahal na sasakyan na di naman nila kayang bayaran. At may subsidy na P80,000 na napakaliit kumpara sa presyo (P1.8 million),” he added.
(Second, this jeepney modernization program will entail huge costs. We are forcing them to buy a more expensive vehicle which they could not afford. And the subsidy is only P80,000, which is small compared to the vehicle price of P1.8 million.)
During the hearing, transport groups also accused the Department of Transportation and the LTFRB of favoring big companies in granting new transport franchises.
A dismayed Poe said: “Ang nangyayari, ang nabibigyan ng mga unang prangkisa ay ‘yung mga malalaking negosyante at korporasyon, walang masama do’n pero bigyan din ninyo ng pagkakataon lalung-lalo na ang mga maliliit, sila ‘yung nawawalan ng prangkisa, sila ‘yung nawawalan ng trabaho.”
(What is happening is big businessmen and corporation are among the first to be granted franchises. There is nothing wrong with that but small operations should be given the opportunity as well. They are the ones losing franchises, losing jobs.) – Rappler.com