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Transport group wants law allocating portion of Public Transport Consumers Tax for drivers

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Transport group wants law allocating portion of Public Transport Consumers Tax for drivers
Commuters queue for free bus rides from Philcoa to Cubao in Quezon City on March 30, 2021 due to limited public transportation amid the enhanced community quarantine.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — A transport group urged incoming lawmakers to lobby for a bill that would allocate 10% of the Public Transport Consumers Tax in support of the Transport Modernization Program and the families of public utility vehicle operators and drivers.

"We in the transportation sector are among the primary contributors to government revenues through the [taxes] drawn from the basic transport commodities where we purchase/consume these commodities in servicing daily traveling commuters," the Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas said in an open letter addressed to incoming senators and congressmen. 

"The transport modernization program has still [yet] to affirm government financial assistance for incapable transport operators to raise enough [funds] to purchase a replacement of old PUV units to modernized jeepneys," the letter reads.

The proposal includes 50% of the funds going to the PUV Modernization Program, while the other half of the fund is to be allocated for establishing transport infrastructure including:

  • establishing Drivers' Academy Schools
  • establishing loading/unloading waiting sheds and bays 
  • putting up traffic sign boards and information signage in accordance with ASEAN standards 
  • constructing public restrooms and other facilities including lights, water, utility facilities
  • acquiring maintenance and security personnel and CCTV cameras for the security of the riding public

The LTOP also urged free education for the children of PUV drivers and a "pabahay program" for the families of PUV operators nationwide. 

PUV modernization still contested as Duterte admin ends

Though the importance of modernization is generally understood and acknowledged, workers in the sector are largely split on the issue. Some have chosen to comply with the government on the condition that the transition to modern jeepneys is just and takes into account the conditions and welfare of drivers, but some have rejected the program altogether. 

At the sidelines of the Diretsahang Pananaw forum Friday morning, Zaldy Ping-ay, Stop and Go Transport Coalition national president told Philstar.com that the manner of implementation of the program has been burdensome and oppressive on the part of the operators. 

"Nobody's contesting that it's more environment friendly," he said, but added that "repairing our jeepneys should be an option to meet the emission standards under the law."

"What are they looking for when they say roadworthy or environmentally friendly? We see violations of those all the time. But this modernization, it's all for the sake of business, it's not for the jeepney drivers or commuters."

Ping-ay added that the "King of the Road" would also be a loss in the country's culture. 

Where is the program headed under a Marcos administration? "We hope it changes. That's what's on our minds," Ping-ay said in Filipino. "He said during the campaign that as long as the jeepney's condition was good, it would be okay. We're waiting to see if that's true."

Drivers feeding poor families — typically day-to-day wage earners — have said they refuse to shoulder the P2.4 million price tag of a modernized jeepney. Over the pandemic, the government doubled its subsidy for these to P160,000. But the prices of units also increased and now cost P2.4 million due to inflation amid the pandemic.

The much-delayed and contentious program aims to replace old jeepneys, one of Filipinos’ primary modes of transportation, with new ones complete with a cashless payment system and GPS tracking device, among others. The reform would also see jeepneys powered by more environment-friendly fuels.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

PUV MODERNIZATION

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