MANILA -- Malacanang on Thursday clarified that the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) of the Duterte Administration is "not anti-poor, contrary to the claims of some transport groups."

"We assure Filipino jeepney drivers that this initiative of the government to improve our public transport sector will not put them out of business. It was not designed to phase out jeepneys. In fact, the program aims to strengthen and guarantee the profitability of the jeepney business," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Further, he cleared that the government agencies, particularly the Department of Transportation (DoTr), "are exhausting all efforts" not only to improve transport facilities through the program but also to ensure PUV drivers that their concerns regarding it will be addressed.

Among these efforts, Roque said there is the provision of a financing scheme for acquisition of new units available through the Development Bank of the Philippines’ Support Alternative Driving Approaches (Pasada) Program and Landbank of the Philippines’ Special Environment-Friendly and Efficiently Driven (SPEED) Jeepney Program.

The Department of Finance, he said, is offering a 5 percent equity, 6 percent interest rate and a repayment period as long as seven years financing package.

This on top of the PHP80,000 subsidy per unit to cover the equity payment. In addition, he said there is zero or low maintenance cost of new units in the first three years, which translates to savings.

Last week, DoTr said it is ready to implement the PUVMP in 2018. (PNA)