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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Romualdez wants iconic jeepneys to stay; Marcos extends deadline for PUV consolidation

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Speaker Martin Romualdez vowed to help preserve traditional jeepneys as a cultural touchstone following his meeting with various transport groups and their leaders at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Jan. 24.


“The jeepney has really become a symbol for our Philippines, so it should not be lost, and I support you [in this advocacy]. We will preserve that. We must not let it disappear in our country,” Romualdez told some 100 jeepney drivers in Filipino.

The drivers held a demonstration in Batasan Hills, Quezon City to have an audience with the Speaker, which he granted. “I am grateful that you came to see me, so we can also understand your grievances,” he told them.

Romualdez empathized with the plight of the jeepney drivers, telling them that he, too, does not want to lose its image. He understood its cultural impact and significance in the lives of many, not only the drivers, but the passengers who rely on their transportation services.   

It was in the backdrop of this impromptu dialogue that Malacañang announced a few moments later the extension of the deadline for jeepney consolidation under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) until April 30, 2024.

The consolidation lapsed last Dec. 31, 2023, placing thousands on jeepney drivers in dire straits as their franchises effectively got revoked. This meant they can no longer ply their routes after January 2024.

President Marcos’ three-month extension to the deadline gave all affected drivers a huge sigh of relief. His decision was based on the recommendation of Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista, according to Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil.  

“This extension is to give an opportunity to those who expressed intention to consolidate, but did not make the previous cut-off,” Garafil told reporters.

The Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) reported that 190,000 PUVs, including UV Express, jeepneys, mini-buses, and buses have undergone consolidation.

As of mid-January, UV Express achieved 82 percent consolidation; jeepneys at 75 percent; buses at 86 percent; and mini-buses at 45 percent, the LTFRB said.

The government started carrying out the modernization program in 2017 and established 1,728 cooperatives and corporations with 262,344 members so far.

Romualdez welcomed this development. At a media briefing, he stressed that the Chief Executive is neither blind nor deaf to the sentiments and concerns of the people.

He said the President recognizes the issue’s impact on the local transportation sector and that it comes at a crucial time when the community navigates challenges in the transport industry.

The decision of President Marcos came after Romualdez and other House leaders met leaders of transport groups, including Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) president Mody Floranda and Manibela president Mar Valbuena, who sought an audience with the Speaker.

Prior to Malacañang’s announcement, Romualdez told the transport groups he already planned to meet with President Marcos to request for the deadline extension himself.

Later, the Speaker also met with LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III and other transport officials to discuss how to help the transport groups.

While underscoring the need to modernize public utility vehicles, Romualdez said the drivers’ livelihoods should be preserved.

He said the jeepney has “long been a symbol of our nation’s vibrant culture and enduring spirit.”


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