Senator Grace Poe said plans and promises touted under the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization have remained unrealized seven years since the program was introduced.

Poe said the high cost of modern jeepney, lack of route plans and inadequate safety nets have brought uncertainties to the livelihood of thousands of drivers and hardship to many commuters who have to deal with fewer PUVs plying the roads.

“Throughout the seven years, this committee has never stopped asking the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to revisit the program while we begged for cooperation from the drivers-operators and commuters,” the veteran legislator said, referring to the Senate committee on public services which she headed.

“Tila ba ang slogan ng PUV Modernization ay, ‘Pinangakuan na kayo, gusto nyo pang tuparin’.”

“Noon ngang mga nakaraang pagdinig natin sa isyu at sa budget ng programa, nangako muli ang DOTr na rerebisahin ang programa. Unfortunately, we have yet to see it make good on its commitment. Kumbaga, tila ba ang slogan ng PUV Modernization ay, ‘Pinangakuan na kayo, gusto nyo pang tuparin’,” the seasoned lawmaker added in a public hearing recently.

The lady senator earlier filed Senate Bill No. 105 which calls for a “just and humane” PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP), including transitory assistance and services rendered to operators, drivers and other stakeholders.

The program requires jeepney operators and drivers to organize cooperatives or join existing ones, which would operate the fleet of modernized jeepneys the groups would purchase.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board announced that starting May 1, 2024, unconsolidated jeepneys would no longer be allowed to ply their routes and risk being impounded.

She asked concerned transportation agencies about their plans for the 36,217 PUVs that did not join cooperatives.

“This represents thousands of drivers and operators that are prevented from engaging in their primary source of livelihood. Nakalulungkot isipin na sa ika-pitong taon ng implementasyon ng PUVMP ay tila wala pa ring solido na plano ang DOTr para sa kanila,” Poe stressed.

She said that the DOTr also earlier promised to approve 50% of Local Public Transport Route Plans (LPTRP) by June 30, 2024. However, as of last May, Poe pointed out that only 11% or 174 LPTRPs have been approved.

“Anong klaseng road transport modernization ang hindi tapos ang ruta?”

“Labing-siyam (19) pa lang ang nadagdag or a mere 1.5% increase from the 9.5% or 155 approved LPTRPs in 2023. Anong klaseng road transport modernization ang hindi tapos ang ruta?” she asked.

She also flagged the DOTr anew for the program’s poor budget utilization rate of only 53% of its P7.5 billion budget from 2018 to 2024.

“This is such a disservice to the drivers and operators who have been pounding on our doors to ask for assistance because they could not afford the cost of modernization. Ni isang singkong duling ay hindi pa ata nagagastos sa P200 million na inilaan natin para sa Tsuper Iskolar at EnTSUPERneur noong 2023,” Poe noted.

“Pitong taon, anim na pagdinig, anim na extensions, at isang pandemya na ang nagdaan simula noong inilunsad ang PUVMP. Nagbago na rin ang pamunuan hindi lamang ng komiteng ito ngunit pati na rin ng programa. Pero bakit tila hindi pa rin kayang ayusin ng DOTr ang mga gusot sa implementasyon?” she added.

Poe nudged the DOTr to prioritize the completion of the route plans before reducing the current number of PUVs to ensure enough ride for commuters. She also reiterated her proposal to tap local jeepney manufacturers that can offer more affordable modern jeepney units.

The DOTr should also provide cooperatives and corporations proper management, accounting, and human resources training, including effective grievance mechanisms for transport entities.

“Gusto nating lahat dito ang modernisasyon pero hindi ‘yung libo-libo muna ang mawawalan ng kabuhayan o masasakyan. Para saan pa ang mabilis na pagtakbo ng dyip kung naiwanan naman ang mga kailangang maisakay?” Poe concluded.



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