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C. Luzon drivers push selective phaseout of PUVs

Jeepney drivers in Central Luzon march on Bonifacio Day to oppose the government’s program to totally phase out old and unsafe buses, taxi cabs and jeepneys. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Around 1,000 leaders of Central Luzon jeepney drivers’ organizations, in a rally staged here on Thursday, urged the Duterte administration to apply a selective phaseout of public utility vehicles (PUVs) in January next year.

The total phaseout mandated by a PUV modernization program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) can “lead to a transportation crisis,” warned Danilo Yumul, spokesperson for Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator na Tutol sa Phase Out (STOP). The modernization plan covers buses, jeepneys and taxi cabs.

“Nationwide, there are more than 300,000 jeepneys that are run by about six million operators and drivers who will be displaced by the total phaseout. We haven’t counted the mechanics, auto supply dealers and insurance companies [who would also be affected],” Yumul said in an interview.

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STOP said the government should prioritize the removal of dilapidated PUVs and allow those that passed the motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) to continue operating. This gives operators and drivers time to voluntarily modernize their vehicles, it said.

STOP also asked President Duterte to reconsider his order to confiscate the licenses of drivers and operators who would defy the total phaseout that would be implemented beginning Jan. 28.

According to Yumul, 30,756 jeepneys are registered in Central Luzon . “[Passengers] stand to suffer the most,” when all PUVs that do not pass standard are barred from serving commuters, he said.

STOP was not totally opposed to the modernization program, Yumul said. “In our ranks, we admit that there are already dilapidated jeepneys that belch smoke and put passengers at risk but the Land Transportation Office (LTO), which inspects motor vehicles, most often find these [worn-out vehicles] to be road-worthy,” he said.

Yumul blamed the insufficient number of MVIS machines at the LTO, which he said reduced the ability of the DOTr to immediately modernize public transport.

PUVs from the Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions are taken to the LTO Central Luzon office in this Pampanga capital for their MVIS, he said.

Yumul also said the transport sector was not properly consulted about the undertaking.

“The DOTr cannot even fix the problems of the LRT and MRT. What more the PUVs?” Yumul said. —TONETTE OREJAS

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