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Poe proposes road tax use for add'l equity subsidy for PUV modernization program

Senator Grace Poe on Thursday proposed the use of the Motor Vehicle Users' Charge (MVUC) fund as additional equity subsidy for the government's Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program, saying its current purpose is already "redundant."

Poe made the suggestion at a Senate hearing on the rollout of the PUV modernization program amid the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board's (LTFRB) plan to phase out traditional jeepneys.

"Baka puwedeng pag-isipan rin natin ang pag-amendya sa Motor
Vehicle User’s Charge, MVUC law, para magamit bilang additional equity subsidy ng PUVMP," Poe, who chairs the panel, said in her opening statement.

"After all, its current purpose for road construction, repair, and rehabilitation is already redundant with the DPWH (regular budget)," she added.

Collected from motorists, the MVUC fund is supposed to be managed by the Road Board and to be used exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.

Poe said jeepney drivers cannot afford to buy "modern" jeepneys worth P2.3 million each when they only earn P755 per day.

"Kulang na kulang ang P160,000 na subsidy. Kaya naman sa ating panukala na Just and Humane PUV Modernization ay isinusulong natin na hindi dapat bababa sa 20 porsyento and subsidiya ng gobyerno," she said.

Poe then hit the LTFRB for forcing the replacement of PUVs when the modernization program is still unrefined.

"Bakit pinipilit ang vehicle replacement kung hilaw pa ang ibang parte ng programa? Nasaan na ang komprehensibong plano para sa route rationalization?" she asked.

The LTFRB was also urged to disclose their plans to the jeepney drivers who cannot comply with the modernization program.

"Will they be absorbed in another line of work or 'thank you' note na lang ba ang matatanggap nila sa gobyerno kung meron man," Poe said.

She also asked for the LTFRB's updates on the Local Public Transport Route Plan.

Citing the Department of Transportation's Department Order 2017-011, Poe said it is the local government units (LGUs) which are the first mover in setting how many jeepneys are needed per route,

But Poe said the Department of the Interior and Local Government Circular 2021-139 indicated that most LGUs are still in the process of preparing their local route plans.

"Since the issues of the PUVMP are the same since 2017, then it  is fair to say that little has changed. The LTFRB has been pumping the gas but they keep going around in circles," Poe said.

Due to these issues, Poe said they are proposing to enact a Just and Human PUV Modernization program.

This bill will serve as the agreement among all stakeholders on the specific direction which the PUV modernization will take and it will be the basis for accountability should the program lose its way again, Poe said.

For the sixth time, the LTFRB has extended the deadline for jeepney operators to form cooperatives, a requirement under the PUV modernization program.

This requirement aims to replace traditional jeepneys with vehicles powered by more environment-friendly fuels.

The LTFRB announced the decision the same day President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that the planned modernization of jeepneys is not "urgent" and amid the week-long transport strike being planned by transportation groups. —KBK, GMA Integrated News