Amid the protest against President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to phase out PUVs aged 15 years and older, the government is still committed in the actualization of the ‘Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVVMP)’, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Monday.
“The Administration remains committed to the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVVMP), which is long overdue,” Abella said in a statement.
“There were several attempts in the past to modernize the public transport system but these have been thwarted due to similar transport strikes, which unfortunately resulted in an outdated public transport system,” he added.
PUV modernization program is mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOTr). The program intends to achieve “safe and comfortable transport, predictable travel time, disciplined and competent drivers, and fair regulations.”
The enactment of the program will force PUV drivers and operators to replace their units to Euro 4 engines or electrically-powered engines with solar panels for roofs.
Several drivers and operators said that the program is “anti-poor” given that replacement of PUVs will cost them P1 million per unit.
Transport groups such as the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) and Stop and Go Coalition on Monday united in a two-day nationwide strike to oppose PUVVMP.
Abella said that the government is ready and prepared as it has laid out contingency measures to assist commuters affected by transport strike.
According to Abella, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have engaged 35 city buses in Metro Manila.
“This is in addition to the 4 military trucks, 4 buses, 4 vans and 4 service vehicles provided by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA); 15 military trucks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); 12 light trucks and 4 military trucks by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); 6 shuttles and I service vehicle by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),” Abella said.
“Also, six (6) designated areas have been identified by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for free rides. These pickup points include: Commonwealth Avenue, Luneta Grandstand, Orense Guadalupe, SM Marikina, MCU and HK Plaza,” he added.
Amidst PUV drivers and operators mass action, the government vowed to continue its cooperation with members of the public transport sector.
“Through the LTFRB, will continue with the discussions, consultations, and further collaboration with members of the public transport sector, particularly in explaining the financial scheme available to PUJ operators and drivers who wish to avail of new units through financing of government financial institutions,” Abella added.