DOTr: No stopping PUV program despite lawmakers’ concerns
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is not slowing down the PUV (public utility vehicle) program despite doubts aired in Congress over the government’s readiness to overhaul this transport sub-sector mainly by replacing aging vehicles with more environment-friendly albeit pricier models.
“We shall continue with the [program]. No delays, no postponement; let us get this done,” Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement on Thursday.
Tugade made the assertion following a recent Senate hearing where lawmakers expressed concerns that the DOTr and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) were “rushing” the program.
For Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate transportation committee, the government was “(clearly) not yet ready to phase out jeepneys [because] the requirements themselves are vague.”
“All we want (in our PUVs) is for them to be safe and compliant with the (1999) Clean Air Act,” Poe said. “Why rush this and risk thousands of drivers losing their livelihood?”
Launched by the DOTr in July 2017, the program calls for the replacement of jeepneys, buses and UV Express vans aged 15 years and older with government-approved models that are compliant with Euro-4 emission standards.
Groups representing jeepney drivers and operators have been the program’s most vocal critics, calling it antipoor for giving them yet another financial burden. Amid skyrocketing fuel prices, they said, they have to secure hefty loans to afford new units costing around P1.8 million each.
In an interview on Tuesday, Assistant Transport Secretary Mark de Leon maintained that the department “has given (jeepney drivers) a lot of support and subsidies that no other mode of transport enjoys” in order to help them make the transition.
These include the P5,000 fuel subsidy under the revived Pantawid Pasada Program and an P80,000 subsidy for the purchase of new units, he said.
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