MANILA, Philippines – Since the government started with the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) more than two years ago, only 2,595 units have been in operation, so far falling short of the target by a whopping 97%.
The senators discovered this on Thursday, October 3, during the hearing on the proposed 2020 budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), as they asked officials about PUVMP's progress on the heels of Monday's transport strike protesting the program's continuation.
The DOTr said 85,000 vehicles were needed to serve the public. The department taps companies to produce the modernized vehicles, while the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board authorizes routes and issues franchises to newly-formed cooperatives.
Senator Franklin Drilon inquired how many units would be sufficient for the riding public after jeepneys are phased out. DOTr Undersecretary Mark de Leon responded that half of the recorded 170,000 existing units would be needed.
However, since the start of the program's transition phase in June 2017, only 3% of this number has been made operational.
When senators criticized this progress rate, De Leon said drivers and operators were still undergoing financial management training, so by the time they acquire the modernized units, they would be capable of managing these.
Drilon asked if the DOTr plans included a definite number of units that they planned to operationalize by the end of the transition period. De Leon said that modernization would be completed within the next 3 years.
However, the transition period was initially planned to be completed by July 2020 or less than a year from now. Drilon called out the agency for not having specific targets.
“From your responses it’s obvious that you do not have a specific target and work towards the achievement of that target," Drilon said.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade clarified that targets were put in place, but they were open to extending the transition until the end of the current administration, if that would be needed.
The transport agency says 138 motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) sites have been awarded and accredited, but no vehicles have been assessed for roadworthiness using this system yet. As of now, roadworthiness inspections are still being conducted manually by the Land Transportation Office. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.