Speaker urges delay in new jeepney rules | Inquirer News

Speaker urges delay in new jeepney rules



Alarmed by alleged corruption, Speaker Martin Romualdez pressed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to review and extend the enforcement of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) that the government has been trying to implement since 2013.

In a statement, Romualdez said he directed Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, chair of the House transportation panel, to conduct a motu proprio investigation of the program.


READ: DOTr asks local manufacturers to join PUV modernization program

The Speaker said he received reports that “corrupt practices may have tainted the conceptualization and planned implementation of the jeepney modernization program.”


“The reports allege that existing transport officials are in cahoots with previous officials in negotiating for the imported modern jeepney units that will replace the old units,” Romualdez said.

The Speaker did not identify the transport officials nor did he specify which plan he meant since the PUVMP has had several iterations since it was first conceived in 2013, or 11 years ago.

However, Romualdez stressed that he supported a modernization program that was “not just about upgrading vehicles” but a “comprehensive plan to rejuvenate our urban transportation landscape, making it safer, more reliable, and in tune with sustainable practices.”

Recently, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III suggested that the executive department let Congress decide on the program, but when the same matter was brought before the 17th Congress, the appropriate bills, in both chambers, did not even make second reading.

Previous success

In 2013, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) decision to phaseout public utility buses that are at least 15 years old. The program was successful.

In 2015, the government tried to implement the same concept, but it was delayed in consideration of single-unit PUV operators who complained that their livelihoods would be affected.


The current program dates back to 2017 when the government outlined a multi-year plan involving cooperatives and corporations that are easier to regulate and could more easily and viably get vehicle financing.

In reaction to Romualdez’s proposal to again delay the PUVMP, the DOTr said it “appreciates” such an investigation and will cooperate with the House probe “to correct and give clarity on the accusations.”

But Jesus Ferdinand Ortega, chief of the DOTr’s Office of Transportation Cooperatives, said the allegations were “definitely false.”

Ortega reiterated in a press briefing at the LTFRB central office in Quezon City that 70 percent of jeepney operators nationwide support the program and have formed cooperatives for the purpose.

But only 40 percent of operators in Metro Manila have agreed to participate because the LTFRB itself has not finalized the routes to be covered in the plan.

No role in selection

Nonetheless, Joel Bolano, technical division chief of the LTFRB, said the regulator had no say on how or where cooperatives or corporations purchase jeepneys so long as they are compliant.

The DOTr said it has certified 54 PUV models that are compliant with the Philippine National Standards of the Department of Trade and Industry, which are part of the LTFRB rules.

“Cooperatives are free to choose which type they prefer and can afford,” the DOTr said.

LTFRB board member Riza Paches said the government was not forcing PUV cooperatives and corporations to buy the most expensive modernized unit, the purchase of which could be done through bank loans.

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The LTFRB is only offering registered cooperatives from P210,000 to P280,000 to subsidize a bank loan to acquire a modern PUV.


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TAGS: DoTr, jeepney phaseout, LTFRB, PUV modernization program

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