The government thru the Land Transportation and Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)
seems hell bent in immediately implementing the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization
program even if there is a very real possibility that it will create confusion and chaos at its early stages of implementation, or that it will severely affect the livelihood of those who opted to not yet join the consolidation program.

This is the very reason why the House Committee on Transportation in Congress, chaired by Antipolo City 2nd district Representative Romeo Acop already announced the intention of his committee to approve a resolution that would ask President Bongbong Marcos to reconsider the already lapsed deadline for the consolidation of jeepney drivers under the modernization program.

The reconsideration being sought hinges on the concern on what will happen to the livelihood of the thousands of drivers of traditional jeepneys who will not be part of the consolidation. The program as planned sought to consolidated PUVs in the country either thru the creation of transport cooperatives or corporations that will support the effort to modernize the public transport through environment friendly large transport vehicles such as mini-buses and the like.

From the words of the LTFRB and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) the modernization program aims to “transform the public transport system” to make it “more dignified, humane, and on par with global standards.” It actually hopes to make public utility vehicles more safer and environmentally sustainable. In fact the program intends to do away with the iconic jeepney and replace it with something modern, hence a jeepney phaseout.

According to the LTFRB and DOTr the program puts emphasis on reliability, safety, accessibility,
environmental soundness and comfort of a PUV. Of course everybody wants that, who doesn’t? But wait the government also needs to consider the fact that most PUVs are the very source of income and livelihood of thousands of drivers who more often than not toil more than eight hours a day for probably seven days a week (especially for jeepneys) just to enable them to feed their families daily.

This is a reality that must be acknowledged and understood by those who insist on the immediate
implementation of the jeepney phaseout cum modernization. It is already established that those who agreed to be consolidated must, at the earliest possible opportunity start investing and acquiring modern PUV units to the tune of more than two million pesos each for each unit.

For those jeepney drivers whose families are barely surviving from their earnings buying a new and
modern PUV would practically bury them in debt. This will certainly result in an injustice that must be looked into before the modernization program comes into full swing. The government has the
mandate to take care of its people and even though these jeepney drivers are of the minority group they are still the responsibility of the State.

The call for reconsideration in the immediate implementation of the program reasonable at this time since it will allow the government more time to look into the concerns raised in connection with the program’s implementation. A three month suspension of the program will surely provide ample opportunity for the government to fully address the problems of these thousands of jeepney
drivers who may not be capable at the moment to comply with the consolidation under the program.

It must also be understood that the traditional jeepneys, iconic as they are may well be on their way out but the process must be slow to allow those directly affected, the jeepney drivers or other PUV drivers in the same situation, to find ways and means on how to cope and adjust to the modernization program.

The government too should extend its full assistance whether it be in the form of cash dole-outs or even procurement subsidies for the modernized PUV units to ease and alleviate the plight of those affected. There are a lot of measures and steps that can be taken to help these affected jeepney drivers but declaring their jeepneys as colorum or unregistered come February 1, 2024 is certainly not one of them.

Amianan Balita Ngayon