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Include jeepney drivers, passengers in PUV modernization talks – Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said the government should let jeepney drivers, operators, and passengers join talks on the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program. 

Robredo made the recommendation after Pedro Defensor Jr, Institutional Development Department acting director of the Cooperative Development Authority, told her that driver-operator groups do not sit in during technical working group meetings on the proposed program.

Defensor was a guest in the Vice President's radio show "BISErbisyong Leni" on RMN-DZXL 558 on Sunday, October 22.

According to Robredo, it is only normal for members of driver-operator groups to feel concerned if they are getting the short end of the stick when they are excluded from the discussion. (READ: DOTr hits Piston 'propaganda' on modernization program)

"Maybe it would be better if they would really sit down with those who are part of the sector during the consultation, so the jeepney drivers and operators can understand the reasons for the government's decisions," Robredo said in Filipino.

"This can work both ways: The government will know how drivers and operators feel. I think the riding public should join the discussion, too," she added.

The PUV modernization program seeks to phase out old jeepney units in favor of newer, safer, and environment-friendly ones.

The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), however, staged a two-day nationwide strike last week in protest of the PUV modernization program, which mandates the replacement of jeepneys aged 15 years or older. (READ: Junk current version of PUV modernization program – Piston)

The House transportation committee then held a hearing on the matter last week, where transportation officials admitted they have yet to map out a timeline for how the program will be rolled out. (READ: PUV modernization: Planning, readiness issues raised at House hearing

This is despite President Rodrigo Duterte already saying he would "drag away" jeepneys that do not comply with the program by the end of the year.

For Robredo, details of the PUV modernization program should be clarified before the government should even impose a deadline for jeepney drivers and operators to comply. 

"Because if you will modernize but the scheme that the government will offer is not yet ready, then that's not clear. It will take time before drivers can cooperate properly," said the Vice President. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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