Palace: Gov’t not using pandemic to push for jeepney phaseout
MANILA, Philippines— Malacanang on Thursday belied allegations that government was using the coronavirus pandemic to push for the phaseout of traditional jeepneys.
“Ang modernisasyon ay hindi tinaon sa panahon ng pandemya (The modernization was not timed with the pandemic),” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said during an online briefing.
Modernized jeepneys have already been allowed to ply on their routes while its older counterparts are still barred on the roads.
Groups of traditional jeepney drivers have been asking the government to allow them resume operations, with one reportedly mulling to set their jeepneys on fire as protest to the ban.
“Sa banta ng mga tsuper na magsusunog ng PUJs (public utility jeepneys) at ang sinasabing tinatapatan raw ang modernization at phaseout ng jeep sa gitna ng COVID-19 pandemic, wala pong katotohanan na tinatapatan natin ito,” Roque said.
(To the threat of jeepney drivers to set on their PUJs on fire, and that the modernization and phaseout of PUJs are being done in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic, that’s not true.)
“Hindi namin tinatanggal sa mga tsuper ang kalayaang magpahayag ngunit maaari tayong magpahayag nang hindi nananakot po (We are not removing drivers’ freedom of speech but we can express our sentiments without sowing fear),” he added.
Roque earlier said traditional jeepneys may be considered to resume operations if other means of transportation will no longer be enough to accommodate the commuting public.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board told lawmakers Wednesday that UV Express vans and traditional jeepneys will be allowed back on road by next week.
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