MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – After little progress in its bid for modernization, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will allow old jeepneys to ply the roads even after the transition period, provided they pass roadworthiness standards.
During the Senate floor deliberations on the DOTr's 2020 budget, Senator Grace Poe said the transport agency adopted the recommendation to assess jeepneys based on their emissions, safety, and engine worthiness.
Senator Win Gatchalian, acting as sponsor of the budget, confirmed that the DOTr will be upholding this adjustment. "All PUJs will be allowed to ply on the road as long as they pass the motor vehicle inspection system or roadworthiness test," Gatchalian said.
"This is actually also for their sake. I mean it would be a lot more pragmatic for us, expedient, that if it's still pliable, if it's safe, and then it doesn't have any adverse emissions that it be allowed and it will also save a lot," Poe said.
After the hearing, DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran explained the shift, saying operators who have failed to modernize their units by July 2020 will not be automatically phased out as long as they pass the MVIS.
If they pass, they will be granted provisional authority to continue operations. Operators will then have to renew their provisional authority every year by undergoing annual roadworthiness checks.
However, while 138 motor vehicle inspection system sites have been accredited by the DOTr, no vehicles have been assessed using this system as of yet. The Land Transportation Office has been manually conducting these inspections in the meantime.
Further, the franchise consolidation aspect of the modernization program will also be upheld. Operators will have to file their petition for consolidation as well as an intent to modernize on or before June 30, 2020.
Once this deadline lapses and operators have not submitted their petition, routes will be opened to applicants who have consolidated and have complied with modernization, and existing operators will lose their provisional authority.
"Oras na may compliant na kooperatiba o korporasyon na ang mabigyan ng prangkisa sa rutang tinatakbuhan ng lumang jeepney, automatic na makakansela na ang PA na ibinigay dito," the DOTr said in a statement.
(Once a compliant cooperative or corporation is given a franchise for a route of an old jeepney, the provisional authority granted to old jeepneys will be canceled.)
Since the start of the PUV modernization program more than two years ago, only 2,595 units have been modernized and put in operation. Poe said this constitutes only 1.5% of the DOTr's initial target.
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.