After transport strike, House panel tackles PUV modernization

MANILA, Philippines – Following a two-day jeepney strike that also led to the suspension of classes and work nationwide early this week, the House committee on transportation on Thursday, October 19, will hold a hearing to discuss the strike and the government’s proposed modernization program for public utility vehicles (PUVs), better known as the Philippine jeepney.

Invited to the hearing are officials from the transportation department, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Land Transportation Office, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Development Bank of the Philippines, Landbank, and the Highway Patrol Group. 

Also invited are representatives of PUV groups, including the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operation Nationwide (Piston), Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), Federation of Jeepney Operations Association of the Philippines (Fejodap), and Pasang Madsa.

Piston wants the government to junk the current version of the PUV modernization program, and to conduct new dialogues with the sector. The group says that while it supports modernizing the current fleet of jeepneys, they against the so-called “pro-business scheme” of the plan.

They claim the program is anti-poor, since the new vehicles would cost them at least P1 million. Leftist groups have argued that the government plan, in its current form, would rob drivers and operators of their livelihoods. (LOOK: New jeepneys under PUV modernization program)

The government wants to replace PUVs that are 15 years or older with environment-friendly jeeps with added safety features. The LTFRB estimates around 180,000 jeepneys nationwide will need to be replaced under the modernization program.

The Department of Transportation has hit back against Piston over the 2-day strike, accusing them of “false propaganda and misinformation.”

Jeepneys are the most ubiquitous mode of public transportation in the Philippines. In Metro Manila, it’s the most-used form of transportation. –