Orbos: Phasing out of 'deteriorated' PUVs to start January

MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Undersecretary Thomas Orbos confirmed Sunday, November 19, that deteriorated public utility vehicles (PUVs) will be phased out starting January.

"Ang layunin ay tuparin 'yung sinabi ni Presidente na by January, sisimulan tanggalin ang mga bulok na sasakyan. Uunahin 'yung public transportation [vehicles] that is the start of the modernization program," Orbos told reporters.

(The goal is carry out what the President said – that by January, we start to phase out deteriorated vehicles. We will start with public transportation [vehicles]. That is the start of the modernization program.)

Orbos added that motor vehicle inspections will also start in January, through the Land Transportation Office (LTO)

Last October, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered jeepney drivers and operators to "modernize" or else he'll remove their jeepneys from the roads.

Under the PUV modernization program, jeepneys aged 15 years and older and non-Euro-4 compliant engines must be replaced with the new models prescribed by the government. Around 180,000 jeepneys need to be replaced, transport officials said.

'Just one part'

Orbos noted that acquiring new vehicles is only "one part" of the program. He said they will also push for drivers and operators to be in cooperatives or corporations so that they can provide better service.

Under the modernization program, jeepney drivers should receive standard salaries as opposed to the widely-practiced boundary system. (READ: PUV modernization: Planning, readiness issues raised at House hearing)

Orbos also said the route rationalization plan will decongest the capital and ease heavy traffic especially on major roads.

"Katulad 'yung EDSA, ngayon po 4,000 na bus 'yan. Sa totoo lang, kailangan lang doon 1,000. So doon natin makikita 'yung route rationalization. We'll make it more efficient and make it convenient and makakatulong sa trapiko," said Orbos.

(Around 4,000 buses ply EDSA. In reality, the highway can only accommodate 1,000. That's where we'll see how route rationalization [can] make it more efficient and make it convenient, and could help ease traffic.)

Plan ahead

According to Orbos, phasing out of old PUVs should have been done way back.

"Dapat nagpa-plano ka ng 5 years from now... Eh tama lang 'yun, dapat noon pa 'yun eh," he said.

(You should plan 5 years ahead... That's the right thing to do. We should've done it a long time ago.)

Back in October, parts of Luzon were crippled due to a nationwide strike staged by transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston). (WATCH: Abala ba ang transport strike?)

Piston argued that PUV modernization would lead to a loss of jobs, and asked the government to junk the program.

The group criticized the program as "pro-big business" and anti-poor, as the new jeepney models cost around P1.5 million each – too expensive for drivers and operators.

Many questions still hound the modernization plan. Transportation officials admitted that they have yet to map out a timeline for how the modernization program will be rolled out. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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