PUB modernization must be inclusive, collaborative
Jeepneys are a point of pride for the nation and a crucial part of its transportation system, serving as vital last-mile transportation. They are a vital aspect of the Philippines’ cultural and national identity.
To improve public transportation, the Philippine government introduced the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) in 2017. The PUVMP’s objective is to replace old buses, jeepneys, and other public utility vehicles with more comfortable, safer, and environmentally friendly alternatives in three years. However, jeepney drivers find it difficult to afford the expensive new vehicles, which cost between P2.6 million and P2.8 million, and must pay for the additional expenses of establishing cooperatives. This means that standard fares for commuters are expected to rise, which will hurt students and minimum-wage workers.
While jeepney drivers and operators are not against modernization, they require government subsidies and other forms of assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and corruption have made it challenging for Filipinos, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to adapt to the rapid changes. The government must ensure that the modernization process includes the affected industry and provides subsidies that can be repaid over a longer period of time. Furthermore, using locally produced units rather than relying on foreign firms for upgraded vehicles would be beneficial.
Modernizing jeepneys is critical, but imposing strict deadlines is not a fair solution. Despite the existing system’s flaws, the government is still responsible for protecting vulnerable individuals, such as drivers and operators. The government must address their concerns and implement an inclusive modernization plan that considers the impact on impoverished people. Additionally, jeepneys have been an important part of Philippine culture for many years, and it will be fascinating to see if the culture can continue despite the changes.
In conclusion, the government’s modernization plan must be comprehensive and inclusive, considering the needs of jeepney drivers and commuters. Although the goal of the initiative is to improve public transportation and reduce the impact of climate change, it should not come at the expense of human rights. The government must ensure that the regulations are not discriminatory against the poor and provide assistance to those in need. It will take a collaborative effort to delay jeepney modernization and prevent the elimination of these cultural icons.
Daisy-Ree V. Ferrer,
Quezon City University,