MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Monday reiterated its willingness to meet with transportation groups on the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), adding that it is actively “tweaking” the controversial program.
Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista made the statement after the United Association of National Drivers and Operators (Piston) led a three-day national transport strike in protest against the December 31 deadline for the consolidation of traditional utility jeepneys public.
“I still believe we can solve problems through honest communication. We are adjusting the program based on input from transportation groups,” Bautista said in a statement.
“In the PUV Modernization Program, we ensure that no one is left behind,” he added.
According to Bautista, he had already contacted Piston president Mody Floranda to correct several misconceptions about the PUVMP – including the supposed phase-out of traditional jeepneys, the high cost of modern jeepneys, as well as the forced purchase of units costing P2 million. each.
READ: Jeepney phase-out: It’s more than just new vehicles
In fact, Bautista said that many jeepney operators and drivers who have consolidated into cooperatives have already complied with the program.
READ: LTFRB again downplays transport strike
The secretary said that more than 5 thousand routes with 135,761 consolidated franchises have already been approved and operated by 1,838 cooperatives and consolidated companies.
READ: Manibela transport group joins the transport strike
According to the DOTr, under the modernization program, transport cooperatives can benefit from financial assistance in addition to a government subsidy to upgrade their PUV fleet with low-carbon, safe and efficient units.
However, transport groups have consistently opposed the PUVMP, especially the consolidation requirement, as it could result in a public transport monopoly.