Press Release
February 28, 2023


Sen. Chiz Escudero on Tuesday called on the government to review its Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program, saying it was "hastily planned, haphazardly implemented and offered no safety nets whatsoever to the drivers and operators."

The veteran legislator made the call, in support of the resolution filed by Sen. Grace Poe urging the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to postpone the planned phaseout of all traditional jeepneys by June 30, 2023, "pending the resolution of valid and urgent concerns raised by affected operators and drivers regarding the financial viability of the program."

"The national government should consider the review of the phaseout policy, the time table, the financial package and subsidy assistance to affected drivers and operators," Escudero pointed out.

If the government insists on pushing through with the jeepney modernization program, Escudero warned this will lead to unemployment and loss of livelihood as well as lessen the number of public transport options to the commuting public at a time when the country is still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Senate plenary, Escudero further suggested that aside from adopting the Senate resolution, the Committee on Public Services should conduct a hearing on the PUV modernization program to allow various stakeholders a platform where they can voice their position.

"May I ask that this discussion, at a proper time, on top of approving or adopting the resolution filed by Sen. Grace Poe, be referred to the Committee on Public Services. I believe there is a need for an in-depth hearing on the matter so that all sides can be heard," Escudero said.

"The striking jeepney drivers or those who are planning to conduct a strike next week, perhaps, might reconsider if given a forum because in a strike, nobody really benefits from it--both the riding public as well as the drivers," he added.

Various transport groups have threatened to conduct a seven-day strike next week if the government will not suspend the implementation of the PUV Modernization Program. If the plan materializes, the mass action will be the first major coordinated strike since full passenger capacity resumed in March 2022.

Escudero said the current jeepney phaseout program provides no support "whatsoever" to drivers and operators who will be affected by the modernization plan.

"There are no safeguards whatsoever with respect to the affected drivers and operators who will be displaced because of this supposed modernization. The Philippines is known for its jeepneys and all of a sudden, overnight, they want to phase it out and replacing it with these square looking buses from China and Russia?" Escudero said.

"The experience of Sorsogon, when I was governor, is not so good because about 60% of these supposed modern vehicles are in fact already unusable after less than two years. Kinakahuyan na lang po ng piyesa iyung hindi na magamit kasi wala naman available na spare parts kasi iyong mga prino-provide nilang bus at pamalit ng mga jeep eh hindi naman Toyota, Mazda, o Mitsubishi," he lamented.

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