Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy Alvarado met with the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of Bulacan in a bid to promote the PUV (Public Utility Vehicles) modernization program of the Duterte administration at The Pavilion Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center in the City of Malolos on Friday.
Tugade said it is high time to change the transportation system of the country that has gone from bad to worse and pleaded to the drivers and operators to listen and understand the program so that they can meet halfway with the government.
The program, according to the DoTr secretary, is not being implemented to exterminate their livelihood but to help them improve the transportation system.
He said he dreams that there would come a time that even people in suits and barong will ride jeepneys because they are comfortable and air-conditioned.
Officials and members of the Bulacan Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association expressed their sentiments that the program could affect their livelihood.
Tugade noted that President Duterte wants the modernization program to commence starting January this year and the secretary pointed out that the program will drastically reduce air pollution caused by smoke-belching vehicles.
The drivers and operators were also briefed on the government’s loan assistance to those willing to acquire vehicles compliant with the modernization program.
The government has offered possible beneficiaries a six percent loan interest based on diminishing balance if they avail of the modernization program and inquiries can be made at Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines offices that are located in the province.
Alvarado said that micro, small and medium entrepreneurs like the jeepney drivers and operators can maximize the benefits in getting their loans.
To lessen the problem of sourcing capital to procure a compliant vehicle, Tugade advised the jeepney drivers and operators to form a cooperative so that they can easily afford the cost of modernizing their vehicles.
Operators of compliant vehicles can go to the DoTr so that they can be endorsed to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to start negotiations about the fare increase that they are pushing, he said.
Alvarado appealed to the banks to find more ways to lower the interest of the loans that the drivers and operators would be able to afford.
Both Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines responded, saying they will bring the matter to higher ups and see what else they can do to help.
Aileen Lizada, spokesman for the LTFRB, reminded the drivers and operators of the five points that they need to comply with during the three-year transition that include wheels, emission, hand brake, safe lights and uniforms.