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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Gov’t to prioritize PH-made modern jeeps—Speaker

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Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Friday pledged support for local manufacturers of modern jeepneys, reiterating their priority status within the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), which is now subject to a thorough review.

“Our priority will be Philippine-made as this will bring outPhilippine jobs and all other benefits,” Romualdez said during adialogue conducted by the leaders of the House of Representatives with local jeepney manufacturers in Makati City on Friday.

While he underscored the importance of foreign investments, he said common sense dictates that the government should always patronize reliable, durable, safe, and inexpensive locally-made PUVs.

He said the government was committed to promoting Philippine-made vehicles in the PUVMP, emphasizing the potential for job creation and other advantages of supporting domestic manufacturing.

During the dialogue, Romualdez said President Marcos has given his full support for the initiative.

“This government, this Congress will be very much behind you andsupportive of your industry,” he told the local jeepney manufacturingsector, represented by Elmer Francisco and Ed Sarao of the eFrancisco Motor Corp. and Sarao Motors, respectively.

Francisco and Sarao thanked Romualdez for listening to their concerns and supporting the local jeepney industry.

Francisco Motors told Romualdez that they are now working on fullyelectric jeepneys and soon on hydrogen-hybrid PUVs in compliance with the program.

The jeepney maker insists that while jeepneys will no longer be dependent on diesel, the iconic, colorful aesthetic of the vehicle will be a mainstay.

“It’s part of our culture, it’s part of our identity. Even foreigners when they come here to the Philippines, they take pictures of the jeepney,” Elmer Francisco said.

Compared to current e-jeepney models ranging from P2 million to P3million, Francisco said their jeepneys will only cost P985,000, since all its components are Philippine-made.

He said their vehicles can be paid through installment, with payments of P10,000 or P20,000 monthly for a period of three to six years.

Romualdez was joined in the dialogue by Deputy Speaker David Suarez of Quezon and House committee on appropriations chairman Zaldy Co of Ako Bicol Partylist.

The dialogue unfolded against the backdrop of the recent decision lastWednesday by President Marcos Jr. to extend the consolidation deadline under the PUVMP until April 30.

This came immediately after Romualdez met with transport leaders andappealed to President Marcos to extend the deadline.

The move grants unconsolidated jeepneys an additional three months to either join or establish transportation cooperatives or corporations.

Romualdez emphasized the significance of backing homegrown talent,saying the innovation and expertise demonstrated by the local manufacturers deserve recognition and support.

During the dialogue, Francisco updated House leaders on discussionswith Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC) regarding a possible investmentto expedite the PUVMP.

He specifically mentioned consulting with MIC’s CEO, Joel Consing, exploring the viability of securing $200 million, around P11 billion, from the Maharlika Investment Fund.

Romualdez was the first to propose the idea of the Maharlika Fundinvesting in jeepney modernization, with the specific aim of injecting funds to bolster local manufacturers in the transport industry.

For his part, Suarez said the dialogue sought not only to address thechallenges faced by local manufacturers but also to seek collaborativesolutions to ensure a seamless transition in line with the extended consolidation period set by President Marcos.

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