Groups say pro-modernization but issues must be sorted out first
MANILA — Several transport groups on Sunday called on the government to legislate the modernization of public utility vehicles (PUV) so issues on its implementation will be sorted out, noting that the country’s infrastructure for this is still lacking.
Thousands of jeepney and UV express drivers are reportedly mounting a weeklong strike starting Monday to oppose the modernization push on their vehicles.
Ariel Lim, the national convener of the National Public Transport Coalition, said some questions on the program must be answered first. This includes the relevance of industry consolidation and how prepared the government is for the integration of electric vehicles in the country’s transport system.
“Ang hangad namin ibatas muna… Kapag naging batas ‘yan at kami ay nagkooperatiba, malinaw na kung bumagsak kami, ano ang kasunod na tungtong ng gobyerno… Ang iniiyak ng mga kasamahan namin, kapag nawala ang prangkisa namin, patay na ang pamilya namin,” Lim said during a media forum in Quezon City.
“Sinabi niyo on the spot, sa hearing, hindi niyo (transport regulators) kabisado,” Lim added.
“Basta ang panawagan, ibatas lang ito. Matutupad ang gusto nilang modernization na maayos.”
Some transport group leaders also urged authorities to not force feed the policy to struggling drivers and operators as some vehicles are still working and effective.
Boses ng Masang Pilipino executive coordinator Dindo Rosales said he is against the credit loan program and the industry consolidation of jeepneys under PUV modernization as this would only take away their rights and ownership on vehicles.
“Huwag niyo nang idamay ang masang mananakay sa hirap at pagpapahirap na pinapagawa sa atin ng ahensya na LTFRB kaugnay sa banta ng pag-phase out sa ating traditional na jeep,” Rosales said.
Lim said he does not believe that all public transport units would have already consolidated as cooperation or corporations by the end of this year, downplaying the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) extension.
“Hindi nga kayo handa. Paano kayo magpapa-consolidate kung hindi kayo handa? Pipilitin niyo nang magpa-consolidate, parang pina-surrender niyo ang kanilang mga hanapbuhay dahil ang prangkisa nila, pinasok niyo sa isang korporasyon, kooperatiba na alam naming papatay,” he said.
Lim, meanwhile, feared that the modernization would just usher the entry of more e-vehicle parts, alleging that some products from China already arrived in the country for this.
It can be remembered that President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. earlier this year issued an executive order cutting tariffs for electric vehicle parts to zero.
“Ready na ba tayo sa electric? Andiyan na ba ‘yung mga saksakan sa charging stations. Nakahanda na ba, nagbigay na ba ang DENR ng permit… para yung baterya na masisira kukunin din nila? Lason ‘yan,” he said.
Samuel Ramos of the Manila Taxi and Regional Association said they sympathize with the plight of jeepney drivers, fearing that they would undergo modernization too in the coming years.
“Kami ay nangangamba rin na magkakaroon din siguro kami ng modernization… electric vehicles. Baka gamitin… Hindi kami natanong diyan,” said Ramos.
“Hindi kami nakonsulta diyan kung gusto ba ng mga taxi driver, yung electric. Baka magulat na lang kami, gamitin… Parang isang government import control,” he added.
Juancho Caparino of Actona Corp echoed Ramos’ sentiments, saying while they are pro-modernization, they do not want this to be a smokescreen for the importation of China’s vehicle parts.
“Hindi tayo tumututol sa pag-modernize. Ang sa atin lang, huwag ipilit ipaakap sa atin ‘yung mga galing sa China. Tayo, mayroon naman tayo,” he said.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista on Saturday said the modernization program would make public transport affordable to both passengers as cooperatives would help run the system.
This would make fares as cheap as possible, while also admitting that the program would be hard to implement.
Other benefits of industry consolidation include the end of a boundary system, proper work schedule, the addition of mechanics, dispatchers, and presence of administrative staff to make operations “efficient,” he said.
Malacañang has said an inter-agency team was formed to make preparations for the weeklong transport strike.
MMDA will field 25 vehicles that could serve around 1,200 passengers for their free rides, while over 2,000 traffic enforcers will also be deployed.
Around 100 personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense and 30 vehicles would also be deployed next week.
The national police, for its part, will send out 60 vehicles to help ferry passengers.