Only 'roadworthy' jeepneys are allowed to operate — Palace
Jeepney drivers on June 25, 2020 check their engine at Tandang Sora Jeepney Terminal in Quezon City.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Only 'roadworthy' jeepneys are allowed to operate — Palace

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - June 25, 2020 - 6:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — Some traditional jeepneys may be facing the end of the road as not all of them will be allowed to resume operations.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said only road-worthy traditional jeepneys would be permitted to ply roads if transportation remains lacking despite the deployment of other modes of mass transport.

"Let's be honest. There is no assurance (that all drivers of traditional jeepneys would be allowed to resume operations). What we said was if transportation remains lacking after the deployment of buses, modern jeepneys and UVs (Express), we would allow some jeepneys that are deemed to be roadworthy," Roque said at a press briefing.

So, wala po kaming kasiguraduhan na ibinibigay na ang lahat po ng jeep ay makakapasada. Sasabihin ko na po, hindi po lahat dahil magkakaroon po talaga ng determination kung alin ang roadworthy (So we cannot give an assurance that all jeepneys can ply roads. I tell you, not all because there will be a determination on what is roadworthy)," he added.

The government follows a hierarchy of public transport modes, wherein traditional jeepneys are at the bottom because of difficulties in observing safe distancing. 

Jeepney operators have urged the government to allow them to resume operations, saying some of their drivers are now begging for alms to sustain the needs of their families. Some transport groups have threatened to burn their jeepneys if the government continues to bar them from plying roads.

The government has also been accused of taking advantage of the pandemic to phase out traditional jeepneys and impose the jeepney modernization program. Roque, however, denied this, saying it has been three years since the guidelines for the modernization of jeepneys were signed.

"With regard to the threat of drivers that they would burn their PUJs (public utility jeepneys)... we are not depriving them of their right to express their views but they can do it without issuing threats," Roque said.

Roque said the government is ready to support drivers who wish to avail of the modernization program, including a P160,000 subsidy.

"We are after the welfare of consumers. It's not about being rich or poor," the Palace spokesman added.

Last Wednesday, Land Transportation and Regulatory Board chairman Martin Delgra III told a congressional hearing that jeepneys will be permitted to resume operations within the month. Roque, however, said he has not communicated with Delgra about the matter.

"So we stand by the latest information that we confirmed from the office that we would follow the hierarchy of transportation but if transportation is still lacking, we would allow the public utility jeepneys," he said.

"We will leave it to the LTFRB to provide the details...on when and how they will certify the road worthiness of jeepneys."

Roque believes Delgra did not make a sweeping statement that all jeepneys would be allowed to return to the roads. 

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