Pimentel to DOTr: Name suppliers in PUV modernization program
Billions of pesos to be made

Pimentel to DOTr: Name suppliers in PUV modernization program

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:32 AM January 04, 2024

Pimentel to DOTr: Name suppliers in PUV modernization program

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III (File photo from the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III on Wednesday called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to name the contractors who could rake in billions of pesos in profits for supplying the mini buses that would soon replace the country’s iconic passenger jeepneys as the new “kings of the road.”

According to Pimentel, the purchase of the vehicles should comply with Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act since taxpayer money would be used to bankroll the multibillion-peso modernization program for public utility vehicles (PUVs).


Under the 2024 General Appropriations Act, the DOTr set aside P1.6 billion for the program, an amount that Sen. Grace Poe had found wanting as tens of thousands of small PUV operators would be affected by the government’s plan to replace traditional jeepneys with modern vehicles costing over P2 million each.


The public transport sector was given until Dec. 31 to consolidate into cooperatives or corporations—one of the requirements under the modernization program—for them to be allowed to continue to ply their routes. Those who did not comply face the revocation of their franchises.

READ: Gov’t urged to defer PUV modernization, address issues

READ: Gov’t has no say in jeepney brand, model in PUV modernization — LTFRB


“We will write (the DOTr) to identify the suppliers of the mini buses and if there are middlemen who arranged the purchase (of these vehicles),” Pimentel said in an online press briefing.

“In the mind of the project implementers, they know that the drivers and operators will have to borrow money and pay amortization… But where will the mini buses come from? Have they been already speaking to the suppliers?” he asked.

The opposition senator said he was “surprised” that President Marcos had decided to pursue the PUV modernization program which was pushed by his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, in 2017 despite the vehement objection of the transport sector.

Duterte’s response, however, was to threaten the drivers and operators who were against the phaseout of traditional PUVs.


“If you cannot afford to modernize that, leave. You’re poor? Son of a bitch, go ahead, suffer in poverty and hunger. I don’t care,” he told them in one of his speeches.

Preference for imports

Pimentel noted that since the program was launched, the government was determined to procure the “box-like” mini buses reportedly manufactured by Chinese companies instead of looking for local suppliers.

He pointed out that Sarao Motors, one of the country’s pioneer jeepney makers, had previously offered to build environment-friendly vehicles that would cost less than the imported units.

Under the PUV modernization program, jeepneys are required to have at least Euro 4-compliant engines and other safety features such as handrails and security cameras.

“If they are concerned about air pollution, I’m sure there is a way to install an engine that will be compliant so that our current traditional jeepneys will still be used,” Pimentel said.

“Yet, what we’re seeing is that they are forcing (drivers and operators) to buy the mini buses to replace all our jeepneys,” he added.

PUV operators, the senator lamented, were not even given a choice by the DOTr to retain their vehicles by retrofitting them with brand-new engines.

Better suspend it

As required by law, Pimentel said the suppliers of the mini buses should satisfy the requirements for accredited government contractors.

The supply contracts should also be awarded only to entities that would be able to provide the best deals through a transparent public bidding. “Since this is a government-mandated program, it is as if the government is the one procuring (the vehicles),” he stressed.

But for now, Pimentel said that it would be best for the government to temporarily suspend the PUV modernization program indefinitely.

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During the Senate budget deliberations a few months ago, he noted that the DOTr had admitted that most jeepney drivers and operators would not be able to beat the year-end deadline to consolidate their units.

“There will be no peace and harmony in the transport sector,” Pimentel said. “Worse, this might result in a shortage of (PUVs) that would only hurt the riding public.”

TAGS: Aquilino Pimentel lIII, public utility vehicles, PUV modernization program

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