(File photo) 

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said the government is making sure that jeepney drivers and operators will not lose their means of livelihood when it finally implements the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).

He made this assurance in a media interview following the launch of a special Kadiwa ng Pangulo (KNP) outlet dubbed “KNP Para sa Manggagawa” (KNP for Workers) in Quezon City.

…Ang problema na kanilang sinasabi ay baka hindi sila mapa-utang para makapag bili ng bagong sasakyan. Kaya ‘yan ang tinitignan natin ngayon, na tiyakin na walang mawawalan ng trabaho dahil hindi nakapagbili ng electric vehicle pagdating ng panahon. Wala pa tayo doon (I think the problem they mentioned is they might not be able to get loan to buy new vehicle. So, that’s we are studying, to make sure that no one will lose job just because they cannot afford to buy an electric vehicle when the time comes, but we're not there yet),” he said.

Transport groups earlier opposed the planned phaseout of traditional jeepneys to replace them with electric jeepneys, saying they needed stronger financial support because they were incapable of repaying the huge loan under the PUVMP.

Marcos, likewise, welcomed the decision of transport groups Manibela and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) to end the supposed weeklong nationwide strike to oppose the PUVM.

The nationwide strike was supposed to be held from Monday to Saturday but was cut short following a meeting between transport group heads and Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil and Office of the Executive Secretary Undersecretary Roy Cervantes.

“Ako’y nagpapasalamat naman sa kanila na sa palagay ko they have made their point very clearly na kailangan natin tignan at pag-aralan ng mabuti (I am grateful to them because I think they have made their point very clear that we need to carefully look and study this program),” Marcos said.

“Eto yung mga sinabi ko noon na balikan natin itong sistema na sa pagpalit ng sa jeepney at saka sa mga bus, at saka sa mga iba’t ibang transport areas ay kailangan natin tignan ng mabuti na hindi tayo nagbibigay ng dagdag na pahirap para sa ating mga transport workers (This is what I’ve said before that let's review this system of replacing jeepneys as well as the buses, as well as the different transport areas that we need to carefully look into so that we do not give additional burden to our transportation workers),” he added.

Marcos earlier directed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB) to conduct regular consultations with drivers and operators to ensure the smooth implementation of the program.

He hopes that concerned agencies would have enough time to consolidate the guidelines of the PUVMP after its deadline was moved from June 30 to Dec. 31 this year.

“Sa palagay ko sapat na panahon ‘yun upang magawa na natin lahat ng kailangan gawin para ayusin ang sistema ng pag-inspeksyon at pagpalit ng ating mga jeepney (I think that is enough time for us to do everything that needs to be done to fix the system of inspection and replacement of our jeepneys),” he said.

Marcos also reiterated that passengers' "safety" will be factored into the review of the implementation of the PUVMP.

“Ngayon ang ginagawa lang natin tiyakin lang natin na safe ang ating mga sasakyan, na hindi malagay sa alanganin ang mga pasahero ang mga commuter (Now, we are making sure that our vehicles are safe and the safety of our passengers and commuters will not be compromised),” he added.

The PUVMP aims to achieve a restructured, modern, well-managed and environmentally sustainable transport sector where drivers and operators have stable, sufficient and dignified livelihoods while commuters get to their destinations quickly, safely and comfortably, according to the LTFRB. (PNA)