Bautista says PUV modernization program to stay
Amid the plan of transport groups to hold a week-long strike, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista maintained the need to modernize public utility vehicles.
The planned transport holiday in the National Capital Region and Region 3 from March 6 to 12 will be done to express opposition to the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.
In an interview with reporters, Bautista was asked if the call to scrap the PUV modernization program is already off the table. He responded that scrapping the program is not the right thing to do.
"'Yung pagbasura ng modernization program natin ay siguro ay hindi naman tama. Kailangan imodernize natin 'yung ating public utility vehicles... ang tawag ko nga diyan 'yung CASA sa amin sa transport sector, CASA is very important no? CASA means na convenient, accessible, safe and secure, and affordable," Bautista said.
(Scrapping the modernization program is not right. We need to modernize public utility vehicles. I call that as CASA in the transport sector, CASA is very important, it means convenient, accessible, safe and secure, and affordable.)
"'Yan ang laging pinag-iisipan namin sa transport sector and kung hindi mamomodernize yung PUVs, hindi natin maiimplement 'yung CASA program ng Department of Transportation," he added.
(That's what we always think in the transport sector and if we don't implement the PUV modernization, we cannot enforce the CASA program of the Department of Transportation.)
Bautista earlier expressed intention to have a dialogue with transport groups first before the latter holds the week-long strike that can paralyze the transport system.
The Transportation chief said he already talked to one of the transport group leaders, Mar Valbuena, via phone call and he said the latter is open for a dialogue. He said he might talk to Valbuena again this afternoon.
"Maayos naman. I also talked to some groups, isang grupo naman na very supportive of the project of the government to modernize our PUVs. Kasi recognition na ito ay para sa mas nakakarami... kasi dapat isipin natin what is good for the commuters," Bautista said.
(It's good. I also talked to some groups, one group is very supportive of the project of the government to modernize our PUVs. This recognizes that this is for the benefit of most people... we should think what is good for the commuters.)
The PUV modernization program aims to replace traditional jeepneys with vehicles powered by more environment-friendly fuels. Operators and drivers can apply for new franchises, but as part of transport cooperatives.
Several jeepney drivers have appealed to the government to give them more time to shift to modern jeepneys, but the LTFRB has given operators only until June 30 to comply after already extending the deadline several times.
Bautista said in case the transport strike would push through, the DOTr has arrangements with other sectors to provide the transport needs of commuters.
"Mayroon kaming arrangement with other sectors, for example 'yung Coast Guard, available 'yung mga sasakyan, other government agencies, 'yung MMDA, madami namang susupport sa atin," Bautista said.
(We have an arrangement with other sectors, for example the Coast Guard, their vehicles are available, other government agencies, the MMDA, we have a lot of support.)—LDF, GMA Integrated News