An ode to the king

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - HotSpot - - EDITORIAL - By Maria Romero

Good­bye to the iconic jeep

Is this good­bye to the tra­di­tional jeep­neys that have al­ways been part of our his­tory? Or is this hello to a bet­ter means of trans­porta­tion?

Jeep­ney driv­ers and op­er­a­tors con­tinue their fight against the pub­lic util­ity ve­hi­cle mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram (PUVMP) even as the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DoTr) stood firm on its full and ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion by June 2020.

Pi­nagkaisang Sama­han ng mga Tsu­per at Operey­tor Na­tion­wide (Pis­ton) Pres­i­dent Emer­i­tus Ge­orge San Ma­teo said the gov­ern­ment should “hold and ab­ro­gate its cur­rent pro­gram.”

“It’s im­por­tant to have a new (trans­porta­tion) pro­gram where the trans­porta­tion sec­tor can in­cor­po­rate our sug­ges­tions. The Depart­ment Order 2017-011, or the Om­nibus Fran­chis­ing

Guide­lines which is the frame­work plan of the cur­rent mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram, was formed by the gov­ern­ment alone,” San Ma­teo told the Daily Tri­bune.

He re­it­er­ated that the driv­ers and op­er­a­tors should also have par­tic­i­pa­tion in craft­ing the frame­work of the PUVMP.

San Ma­teo said they are not op­pos­ing the mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram it­self but the re­quire­ments that make it hard for their mem­bers to meet its terms.

This in­cludes the phas­ing out of jeep­neys 15 years old and older, which forces them to pur­chase ex­pen­sive units that are Euro 4-com­pli­ant, with “ac­cept­able” ex­haust emis­sion lim­its and runs on re­new­able en­ergy as well.

Un­der the pro­vi­sions of the pro­gram, old jeep­neys will be phased out three years af­ter its launch. This means that by June 2020, old jeep­neys should have been driven off the road.

DoTr Un­der­sec­re­tary Mark Rich­mund De Leon stood firm on the gov­ern­ment stance that ex­ist­ing jeep­neys should “be up­graded to com­ply with en­vi­ron­men­tal laws.”

“The jeep­ney op­er­a­tors are com­plain­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, their fran­chise is a state-given priv­i­lege. The num­ber one

re­quire­ment is that they

The jeep­ney op­er­a­tors are com­plain­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, their fran­chise is a state-given priv­i­lege. The num­ber one re­quire­ment is that they pro­vide the pub­lic ser­vice

pro­vide the pub­lic ser­vice that they were given by the author­ity of the state to run this pub­lic trans­porta­tion,’ De Leon ar­gued.

The of­fi­cial ex­plained that with the PUVMP, the gov­ern­ment is not only mod­ern­iz­ing ve­hi­cles but also stream­lin­ing the con­duct of pub­lic con­veyance by trans­port op­er­a­tors.

Un­der the pro­vi­sions of the PUVMP, old jeep­neys will be phased out three years af­ter the launch of the pro­gram.

De­spite heated protests, trans­port groups and driv­ers need to com­ply with the rules and re­quire­ments set by the gov­ern­ment, De Leon em­pha­sized.

But San Ma­teo said the ac­qui­si­tion of mod­ern jeep­ney units would re­sult in phas­ing out in­di­vid­ual fran­chise op­er­a­tors only to be re­placed by large cor­po­ra­tions backed by big-time ty­coons and politi­cians.

“Our known jeep­ney as­sem­blers have the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise to cre­ate good jeep­ney chas­sis where we can in­cor­po­rate Euro-4 ex­haust emis­sion com­pli­ant ve­hi­cles. But the gov­ern­ment (in exchange) wants us to have the P2.5mil­lion worth of mini-buses they call the jeep­ney un­der fran­chise con­sol­i­da­tion and fleet man­age­ment,” San Ma­teo added.

Aside from af­fect­ing 800,000 small in­di­vid­ual op­er­a­tors and driv­ers, the mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram is also pro­jected to prompt a fare hike to make up for the cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in the ac­qui­si­tion of new jeep­ney units and the con­struc­tion of ter­mi­nals, charg­ing sta­tions and park­ing spa­ces.

Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Arthur Tu­gade, for his part, al­ready as­sured trans­port op­er­a­tors the gov­ern­ment has set aside fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance in the form of loan and grants for driv­ers ad­versely af­fected by the pro­gram.

But de­spite the back and forth be­tween the gov­ern­ment and trans­port groups, new PUV has started rolling out in some of the streets of Metro Manila and in some prov­inces.

As of July, the Land Trans­porta­tion Fran­chis­ing and Reg­u­la­tory Board (LTFRB) bared the op­er­a­tion of only 4,000 mod­ern­ized jeep­neys or well be­low the tar­get 170,000 units by mid-2020.

Ac­cord­ing to De Leon, they can­not ful­ly­im­ple­ment the pro­gram be­cause of the con­tin­u­ing op­po­si­tion from or­ga­nized trans­port groups.

Jeep­neys are more than just read­ily avail­able cheap means of trans­port. They are also a cul­tural sym­bol that has wit­nessed both his­tory and the ev­ery­day strug­gles of Filipino com­muters. For many, jeep­neys are sym­bolic rep­re­sen­ta­tions mir­ror­ing the re­silience of the Filipino peo­ple.

But be­hind the vi­brant ex­te­rior of these jeep­neys hide the out­dated en­gine de­sign that can be traced back to the 1940s and the per­sis­tent and peren­nial prob­lems hound­ing the lo­cal pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tem.

The Philip­pine has long been left out of the mod­ern­iza­tion of mass trans­ports rel­a­tive to its neigh­bors. While coun­tries like Ja­pan, Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong en­joy ef­fi­cient and seam­less pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tems, the Philip­pines re­mains stuck in a rut over which mode of trans­porta­tion best suit com­muters. It can­not be de­nied that the slow-paced progress in trans­porta­tion has caused a myr­iad of prob­lems to both the gen­eral pub­lic and the gov­ern­ment.

The fight for bet­ter mass trans­porta­tion in the Philip­pines is not just for the con­ve­nience of com­muters but also for the econ­omy and the en­vi­ron­ment.

So, while a sub­set group of Filipinos have not suc­ceeded in stop­ping the mod­ern­iza­tion process, most can look back that at some point in the past they wit­nessed a trans­porta­tion mode that owns a col­or­ful his­tory.

The Philip­pine has long been left out in the mod­ern­iza­tion of mass trans­port com­pared to its neigh­bors.

THE re­sis­tance and con­tin­u­ing protests by driv­ers and op­er­a­tors notwith­stand­ing, it should soon be cur­tain time for the iconic jeep­ney that dom­i­nates road­ways across the coun­try. DE LEON

TRANS­PORTA­TION chief Arthur Tu­gade has given as­sur­ance that fund­ing is avail­able for those mi­grat­ing from con­ven­tional pow­ered jeep­neys to mod­ern e-ve­hi­cles.

THE iconic, col­or­ful and uniquely Filipino trans­port should soon ac­quire a mod­ern en­vi­ron­ment-friendly ve­neer.

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