Two state-run banks bat for a price ceiling on modernized jeepneys, saying the current costs of the vehicles have made it unviable.
Meanwhile, party-list Rep. Margarita Nograles said the recent nationwide transport strike that threatened to cripple public transportation has underscored the urgency of passing a measure to regulate the use and the operation of motorcycle taxis and other motorcyle-for-hire services.
Officials of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) made the suggestion to limit the cost of modern PUVs during Thursday’s congressional hearing on the country’s mass transport system. The hearing came on the heels of a nationwide strike by jeepney organizations to dramatize their opposition to the government’s jeepney modernization program.
The government-owned LandBank and DBP were designated to bankroll the acquisition of the modernized public utility vehicles.
DBP vice president Rustico Noli Cruz and LandBank assistant vice president Genoroso David acted as resource persons during the hearing conducted by the House Committee on Transportation chaired by Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop.
“Based on our initial study when we were involved in the conceptualization of this project, we found that operations of transport entities are to be viable if the cost is within P1.6 million to P1.8 million per unit. But now, the (modernized) jeepney’s cost is P2.3 million to P2.8 million per unit. The viability is now questionable,” David said.
For his part, Cruz said under the payment scheme per unit on modern PUVs, the current monthly amortization will reach P38,000 to P40,000 for seven years.
“That is why it is very crucial that we put up a price ceiling for PUV units because no matter how much subsidy we infuse, no matter how much low the interest rate we give transport entities, that would be negated if the prices of new PUV units will pick up,” David pointed out.
House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro asked the resource persons if it were possible for jeepney drivers to earn the amount in 30 days, “without day off. “That’s P1,200 per day,” he added.
Cruz said the estimate was based on having two drivers for each modern PUV unit.
Castro said even with two drivers, such threshold was still high.
“P1,200… even with two drivers per unit, we need to look at the reality. There are lots of vehicles on the road, and the average income of drivers per day is just at P300 to P500,” he said.
“But if it (modern jeepney) just costs P1.6 million, Would P1.6 million be manageable for drivers?” Castro asked.
Cruz said “that would be viable. But if it is at P2.4 million, they would really have a hard time.
Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Margarita Nograles said the importance of having alternative transportation apart from the traditional public utility vehicles was heavily felt during the transport strike. She said commuters were still able to get a ride using motorcycle-hailing apps and even the colorum “habal-habal.”
“We are thankful that the presence of our motorcycle taxis like Angkas and Joyride mitigated the effect of the nationwide transport strike. Thousands of commuters were still able to get a ride using these motorcycle taxis. Clearly, the transport strike has shown us that while motorcycle taxis can be very convenient, they can be also very dangerous if not properly regulated,” Nograles said.
Nograles, member of the House Committee on Transportation, said that the proposed motorcycle-for-hire law was passed by the House during the 18th Congress but the Senate did not have enough time to move for its approval.
Multiple motorcycle-for-hire bills have been filed in the House. Among the measures was House Bill 7034 otherwise known as Motorcycles-For-Hire Act authored by Manila Rep. Joel Chua, but has yet to pass scrutiny at the committee level.
Nograles said the nationwide transport strike should serve as an eye-opener for Congress to urgently consider the enactment of a law regulating motorcycle-for-hire services to prevent the proliferation of unauthorized and colorum motorcycle taxis.
Nograles said that since it is obvious that motorcycle taxis and other motorcycle-for-hire services have become part of the day-to-day lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos, the government might as well take steps to ensure the welfare and safety of the drivers and the riding public.
“Truth be told, motorcycle-for -hire is Filipino as Filipino can get, when it comes to culture. That’s why we should fast track consideration of this Bill for the Filipino nation, “ Nograles said.
“Their services have been a part of our day-to-day lives long before companies like Angkas and Joyride started their operation. In Mindanao, we have these habal-habals and the so-called Skylab as our primary transportation. It is about time that we should really regulate their operation,” Nograles added.
She added that motorcycle taxis and motorcycle delivery services have become one of the biggest job-generating industries in the country and the enactment of a law regulating their operation would protect them from whimsical policy changes, crackdowns, and even extortion.
This would also set the standards, specifications, and even penalties for the operation of these motorcycle-for-hires. It would also ensure accountability on the part of the drivers who are expected to guarantee the safety of their passengers or the cargo entrusted to them.