Call them the new "kings of the road." New jeepneys under the transportation department's modernization program will be environment-friendly, Wifi-ready and will have air conditioning, the country's transport chief said Thursday.
"Gusto ko ang mga jeepneys, airconditioned. Dapat ang mga jeepneys, may wifi. Dapat ang mga sasakyan, environment-friendly. Hindi dapat nakakasama sa kalusugan," Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said during the United Port Users Logistics Summit.
"Hindi ako anti-poor... Hindi ako against hanapbuhay. Ang sa akin, kung gusto mo maghanapbuhay, 'wag kang kumitil ng buhay," he added.
Jeepney operators and drivers are protesting the proposal to phase out old jeepneys in 3 years, saying they may not be able to shoulder upgrade costs.
The transportation chief also addressed critics of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act that initially prohibited the display of accessories, including rosaries, on parts of the dashboard that may obstruct the driver's view.
"Hindi ako anti-poor. Lalong hindi ako anti-Christ. Hindi ko ipinagbabawal ang rosaryo. Using cellphones ang bawal," he said.
Tugade also urged critics to stop hurling insults against transportation officials, saying solving traffic woes in overpopulated Metro Manila is no joke.
"Sa hirap ng aming gawain, huwag niyo kaming batuhin ng alipusta," he said.
Last year, the transportation department sought emergency powers to solve the traffic crisis in the metropolis.
The proposal was shelved after lawmakers argued that a range of gridlock remedies may be enforced even without the grant of emergency powers.