Press Release
December 11, 2023

Pia: Jeepney modernization a crucial component of PH's sustainability journey
Manifestation during the Senate's ratification of the proposed 2024 national government budget

Mr President, just a few points I'd like to raise. I fully support our Chairperson [Senator Sonny Angara] in the difficult decisions he had to make. So I'll just throw in my greetings for the Chairman's hard work. I know very well that he defended to the best of his ability, until the last minute, some amendments that we would have wanted, especially in the education sector, along with our Chairman of the Committee on Basic Education. This really would be the budget that we would have wanted to be included to support our goal of improving the education system, Mr. President. I won't go into details, but I know for a fact that our Chairman worked really hard to try to secure that budget.

And now, just a few quick reactions, Mr President. Maybe at a later time when I get to see the final version in all its details, of course, we are happy that there is a provision in the GAA every year now on sustainable development being incorporated in every project that is funded. But as they say, the devil is in the details. And one of the devils that we see now is precisely in the area that our colleague, Sen. Grace Poe, pointed out.

Transportation has a very big potential in changing lives, from unsustainable modes of transportation to sustainable. And the modernization that her honor, Sen. Grace, is pointing out, is an extremely important component in our journey towards sustainability, Mr President. I don't have to show videos para ma-envision niyo po ang tambutsong itim na naglalabas ng usok na itim sa mga kalye natin. I don't need to show you the numbers because many of you in the hall and our staff, and those watching have children who suffer from pulmonary conditions which are caused by unsafe environmental standards, particularly the lack of clean air. So lahat ito, affected by this modernization program. And unless we really have the political will to ensure that the budget necessary to help the jeepney drivers transition to more modern and sustainable models, ito po yung, and I'd like to put on record, that this is not shifting to an e-vehicle type. Time and again, kapag lumalabas itong topic ng e-jeeps, I always say preserve Filipino culture. Pagawa niyo yan doon sa mga jeepney operators and manufacturers na matagal na dito sa Pilipinas. There are industries that are dying or have died because slowly, namamatay ang jeepney industry.

Parang natural selection din yan in the industry sector, parang survival of the fittest din yan. Kung hindi magaganda ang model, kung mas efficient ang train, then so be it. Mabubuhay ang train, mamamatay ang jeep. Pero kung bubuhayin din lang natin ang mga jeepney, then it might as well be not by importing jeeps, but by supporting the local industry, and then preserving Filipino culture. And we have with us artists and professionals from the creative industry who will attest that their lives are all about bringing color and meaning and enhancing the experience of being a Filipino, and welcoming foreigners to our country. In every aspect of life, it could be watching a show where they are performing, or it could be riding a jeepney and seeing the colorful history of the Philippines drawn on the actual jeep. And then, makikita ko ngayon, wala na, stainless steel. And then worse, nag-iimport tayo ng vehicles na wala na, hindi na nga made in the Philippines, wala pang input ng mga creatives, the way we grew up with the jeepneys.

So I just want to fully support the manifestation and concern of Sen. Grace Poe as one of the examples that I am fighting for, for sustainability in the country. I also just want to point out that the modernization program is very much a part of, and will contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 11, which is Sustainable Cities and Communities. Thank you, Mr President.

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