Salceda suggests supporting local jeepney manufacturers for modernization
MANILA, Philippines — Albay 2nd District Joey Salceda has suggested that ample support be given to local jeepney manufacturers as the government looks to modernize jeepneys, saying that Filipino-made vehicles can be efficient and environment-friendly.
Salceda in a statement on Thursday said that aside from extending the deadline on the country’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program, especially for recently-built jeepneys, the government should not look towards abolishing the vehicle — and instead use modern versions of it.
The lawmaker, who heads the House of Representatives’ Committee on ways and means, said that the government should provide higher subsidies and even explore buying out old and dilapidated jeepneys.
“I would summarize my proposal in three points: First, support domestic manufacturing of more modern and more efficient, but similarly stylish jeepneys. Second, increase the subsidy per unit to meet the financial viability gap. Third, buy out old jeepneys for cash,” Salceda said.
“If we can bring the cost of the unit to P600,000 to P1 million, that becomes more realistic for both the jeepney operator, and on a cost-benefit basis. I think the domestic manufacturing sector can do it. But we need to support them,” he added.
According to the lawmaker, the return on investment (ROI) for jeepneys costing around P600,000 to P1 million will be around seven and a half years.
Furthermore, Salceda said that the design of the traditional jeepneys, easily recognized as distinctly Filipino, should not be lost.
“By that figure, you bring ROI to around 7.4 years. Otherwise, with these supposedly modern but still very expensive jeepneys, you run into the same problem,” he said.
“When the time comes to retire these ‘modern’ jeepneys, operators will not do so, because they have not recouped their costs. No one is talking about that. We should also not sacrifice the fact that the jeepney is iconic. Domestic manufacturers can do it in style,” he added.
Last March, several transport groups staged a protest against the looming phaseout of old jeepneys, which was originally set for June 2023. According to the drivers and operators, the jeepneys being deemed dangerous are still used as a primary means of ferrying passengers.
This led President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself to appeal to drivers to rethink their planned strike, assuring transport groups that the PUV modernization program would be studied further. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board also said that the validity of the provisional franchises of traditional jeepneys would now last until December 31, 2023.
Last March also, Salceda filed a resolution seeking to investigate the looming phaseout of traditional jeepneys, noting that the mass transport system actually contributes fewer carbon emissions per capita compared to private vehicles which can carry a limited number of passengers.
Salceda reiterated this perspective, urging the Department of Transportation to look at it instead of merely dismissing jeepneys as pollutants — stating that jeepneys only produce 0.33 kilogram of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while modern ones produce 0.25 kilograms.
“It’s a 31% saving in per-passenger emissions for a vehicle that costs as much as 620% more. We need a cheaper, domestically manufactured jeepney that modernizes the traditional one,” he said.
“It’s not that jeepney operators don’t want to modernize. It’s just that, financially, it’s suicide. It makes no sense,” he added.