Jeepney phase out must be done gradually: Poe

MANILA — Senator Grace Poe on Monday said that she found merit in the sentiment of jeepney drivers and operators for opposing the government’s plan to phase out old jeepneys.

Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, made this statement the same day transport groups held a nationwide protest in hopes of suspending the implementation of the phaseout.

The senator said she supported the government’s planned modernization of mass transport system but noted that any program to be implemented must be the outcome of transparent consultations.

“Let’s aim for a win-win solution: one that will alleviate the traffic situation, help clean the environment and give productive income especially to the poor sectors of our society,” the senator said.

She pointed out that her office had been hearing complaints that the public consultations had become a mere formality to satisfy the requirements of the law and that not all groups were consulted.

“Modernization should not result in the displacement of jeepney drivers, who often belong to the country’s poor,” Poe said in a statement.

“…The phase-out of jeepneys must be done gradually. Fleet management or maintenance of jeepney units through the Motor Vehicle Inspection System should also be included in the guidelines,” she added.

Poe, meanwhile, expressed hope that the transport strike would serve as a wake-up call to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to listen to the jeepney drivers and operators.

“With the high costs involved, the PUV modernization program should be looking at sustainable modernized PUV fleets. Hindi pwedeng basta bago lang (It doesn’t be a mere change),” Poe said.

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