Back in June, the Philippine government finally launched its PUV modernization program. The move was met by mixed reactions: Many commuters hailed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for finally committing to the long-overdue process, while some transport groups and operators vehemently opposed it.
One of the more prominent arguments being thrown around by the latter is that the program is 'anti-poor.' But is it really? According to transportation secretary Arthur Tugade, no, it isn't.
"Nililiwanag ko lang na yung programang modernization of public utility is not anti-poor," Tugade said during a press conference held at the DOTr head office in Clark, Pampanga, earlier today, adding that it isn't designed to phase out jeepneys. "It is actually designed to strengthen and guarantee the profitability of the jeepney business."
"Gumagawa tayo ng pamamaraan na kung saan yung jeepney ay magiging compliant sa mga specification na gusto natin sa program upang paghahanap-buhay ay kakambalan natin ng responsibilidad sa kapaligiran," Tugade said, calling for operators to keep the environment in mind. "Maghanap-buhay ka pero 'wag mong patayin 'yung environment. Maghanap-buhay ka pero pangalagaan mo ang henerasyon na darating.”
Tugade made the remarks following the ceremonial signing of a memorandum of understanding between the DOTr and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), to mark the official launch of the Support Alternative Driving Approaches (PASADA) Program—a P1.5 billion financing program which could bring in as many as 900 brand new units of government-compliant jeepneys and aid in the construction of garages and terminals.
He added that this presents an opportunity for cooperatives and corporations to upgrade their fleets with safer, more convenient low-carbon emission units, as they can avail of financial assistance on top of a government subsidy.
DBP chairman Alberto Romulo, who was also present during the ceremony, shared Tugade's sentiments, saying the PASADA program will "offer responsive and reasonable" financing for concerned parties.
Hopefully transport groups will come to terms with the government regarding PUV modernization. If the program does finally manage come into fruition, maybe a possible increase in automotive taxes will be a slightly easier pill to swallow.