Robredo: Make modernized jeepneys affordable

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Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo has called on the Duterte administration to make the price of new environment-friendly jeepneys affordable for drivers.

Robredo made the appeal in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirade against jeepney drivers protesting the government’s efforts to modernize jeepneys.

In a recent speech, the president warned that he would not care if the drivers go hungry should they insist on resisting the jeepney modernization program.

Jeepneys are seen as an enforcer manages traffic at a busy street in Manila on May 30, 2017. Jeepneys, once hailed as the ‘King of the Road’ and a cultural symbol in the Phillipines to rival New York’s yellow taxis, may soon disappear from Manila’s gridlocked streets, as authorities move to phase out the Philippines’ iconic World War II-era minibuses, citing pollution and safety concerns. AFP PHOTO

“We should not deal with implementing this program with anger, viciousness, or striking fear. We are not against modernization, but we need to see all variables. I have been reading about the sentiments of the drivers, and it shows that they will find it very difficult to purchase the modern jeep. The question is, how can the government make the new program bearable, thus enabling them to comply with the modernization?” Robredo said in an interview during the Bicol Express Modernization Forum.

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Under the government’s public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization initiative, a jeepney driver would need to acquire new jeepneys worth P1.2 million to P1.6 million each, exclusive of annual interest under a seven-year loan scheme proposed by government.

“Yes, PUV modernization is for the betterment of our society, but we also have to put weight on how will it affect the drivers. If we want to pursue modernization, we should give the drivers a chance to comply by giving them aid,” the vice president added.

State subsidy for the acquisition of new jeepneys is initially pegged at P2.26 billion for 28,000 units, translating to P80,000 per jeepney. This would mean that a driver or operator would need to shell out at least P800 per day for seven years to fully pay for the vehicles. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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