MODERN JEEP. Passengers board a modern jeepney along Commonwealth Avenue, Philcoa in Quezon City on Jan. 31, 2022. The Department of Transportation on Wednesday (Sept. 28, 2022) said it will still ask lawmakers to restore the budget for the public utility vehicle modernization program in 2023. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) continues to lobby for funding of the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) in 2023, a DOTr official said Wednesday.

In a Laging Handa briefing, DOTr Undersecretary Mark Steven Pastor said despite the disapproval of the PHP778 million budget for the PUVMP in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023, the DOTr continues to engage with lawmakers to allocate budget for the program.

“We have yet to consider the non-inclusion of the budget as final,” Pastor said.

The DOTr, he said, is lobbying for lawmakers to make a constitutional amendment in both Senate and House hearings to fund the PUVMP.

To date, he said around 6,000 modern jeepneys operate across the country and are expected to further increase with loan assistance and other help from the PUV modernization program.

“Kapag sa Landbank o sa DBP [Development Bank of the Philippines] sila maglo-loan, mayroon pong PHP160,000 na ibibigay po ang gobyerno bilang pantustos po sa unang pambayad dito sa ating pagbili po ng modern units (If they apply loan from Landbank or DBP, they will receive PHP160,000 from the government to help them for their first payment for modern units),” he said.

On the other hand, the DOTr continues to push for other transport-related projects as one of the major thrusts of the Marcos administration with a focus on public-private partnerships (PPP).

These include the Edsa Busway, the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit, the Davao High Priority Bus System, and the Edsa green-based project.

“Lahat ng mga proyektong nabanggit po na ito ay people-centered at alinsunod na rin po sa isinusulong ng DOTr na ‘we move people and not cars’ (All these projects I mentioned are people-centered and in accordance with the DOTr’s mantra ‘we move people and not cars’),” he said.

Pastor said lawmakers made zero allocation for the PUVMP under the DOTr’s proposed PHP167 billion budget for next year.

Despite having no budget, he said the government is planning to increase the number of operational modern PUVs by 50 percent next year. (PNA)