ILOCOS Norte Gov. Imee Marcos is proposing an assistance package for drivers and operators to enable them to participate fully in the PUV modernization program of the administration.
The package consists of more liberal financing options that can include soft loans and moratorium on installment payments for at least one year, and trade-in options for drivers and operators to get value for their old vehicles.
“Phasing out very old PUVs will help ease traffic in Metro Manila as well as improve air quality in the capital. The implementation, however, must be done with a compassionate view on the welfare of PUV drivers and owners,” said Marcos, who is running for senator in the May midterm elections.
“The modernization program must address two issues: the real problem of public safety compromised by dilapidated, inefficient and old PUVs, and the welfare of PUV drivers and operators. The first has been addressed by the availability of newer, more efficient and eco-friendly PUVs, which are ready for acquisition through installment. But, not the welfare of PUV drivers and operators. They must be enabled, through more friendly financing schemes, to afford the cost of acquiring new PUVs under the modernization program,” Marcos stressed.
“Lehitimo at talagang mabigat na problema ito ng mga drivers at operators – ang mataas na presyo ng mga bagong units at kulang na kulang sila ng kakayahang pinansiyal upang makabili ng mga bagong units. Ipinaglalaban nila ang kanilang kabuhayan at bitbit din nila ang obligasyon na tulungan ang ating mga commuters na magkaroon ng ligtas at komportableng masakyan,” she said.
Marcos noted that the P80,000 grant plus P5,000 gas subsidy and fixed salary for drivers are not enough to help them pay for a P1.4 to P2.1 million brand new jeepney with Euro-4 capability.
“The government must lighten the burden of the high cost of new units because failure to do so would mean loss of public transport for most Filipinos and loss of jobs for our drivers,” she said.
“Kung tutulungan ng todo ng gobyerno ang ating mga drivers at operators, hindi lang sila kundi pati na rin ang publiko ang makikinabang at matutulungan. Maisasalba ang kabuhayan ng drivers at operators at maiibsan ang hirap ng mga tao sa pagko-komyut dahil makakarating sila sa kanilang destinasyon na ligtas at komportable” she added.
Marcos said the government can adopt a “trade-in-your-old-PUVs” program along with a one-year moratorium on payments which will reduce the shock of the high cost of brand new PUVs on jeepney drivers, owners and operators to enable them to cope better with installment payments that can still be made more affordable by the government.
Marcos also expressed concern on the use of Euro-4 capable vehicles which she said is an “unduly high standard” for public utility vehicles. Brand new vehicles in the country use the Euro-3 engine like Australia and Singapore, while Thailand and Indonesia use Euro-2.
“Training and maintenance for Euro-4 engines pose a big problem. TESDA confirmed that they have no classes and instructors for repair and maintenance of Euro-4 engines. Even the LTFRB admitted that we are not ready for Euro-4,” she stressed.
The government’s PUV modernization program mandates the phasing out of old jeepneys and buses that would fail roadworthiness test and the replacement of non-Euro-4 compliant engines with new models.
Jeepneys serve almost 40 percent of transport users in Metro Manila and in surrounding provinces. Data from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board showed there are about 180,000 franchised jeepneys on the country’s roads. The number, however, could go up to as high as 240,000 if colorum jeepneys are counted.
Records from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority likewise show at least 3,300 provincial buses and 12,000 city buses pass through EDSA daily. There are also 85 provincial bus companies situated in the capital, of which 46 firms have terminals on EDSA, particularly in Cubao, Balintawak and Taft Avenue.
The national government has allocated another P447 million for this year to carry out the PUV modernization program. It is also planning to allocate at least P2.2 billion for low-cost financing to help PUV operators and drivers acquire newly configured buses and jeepneys under the program.
Once available, the P2.2 billion will be coursed through two state-owned lenders—the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.