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Strike won’t stop jeepney modernization plan: Malacañang

Activists stage a transport strike against the government’s public vehicle modernization program in Quezon City on Monday. The government’s modernization program aims to replace vehicles aged 15 years and above for newer and eco-friendly models.(MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 16 (Mabuhay) – Despite the nationwide transport strike, Malacañang on Monday said it was committed to pursuing the jeepney modernization program.

“The Administration remains committed to the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), which is long overdue,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Abella said “there were several attempts in the past to modernize the public transport system but these have been thwarted due to similar transport strikes, which unfortunately resulted in an outdated public transport system.”

The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper and Opereytor Nationwide or Piston on Monday launched a two-day transport strike nationwide to protest the government’s program phasing out jeepneys at least 15 years old.

Piston is protesting the PUV modernization program aimed at phasing out old PUVs, while the government plans to replace the jeepneys with “eco-friendly” PUVs.

The strike prompted Malacañang to suspend classes and government work nationwide on Monday.

“Government is ready and prepared as it laid out contingency measures to assist commuters hit by the nationwide transport strike,” Abella said.

Quoting the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Abella said they have deployed 35 city buses to ferry passergers in Metro Manila.

“This is in addition to the 4 military trucks, 4 buses, 4 vans and 4 service vehicles provided by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA); 15 military trucks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); 12 light trucks and 4 military trucks by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); 6 shuttles and I service vehicle by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),” he said.

Several local government units (LGUs), he said, have also provided buses and vehicles for the affected commuters.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has designated six areas for free rides, which include Commonwealth Avenue, Luneta Grandstand, Orense Guadalupe, SM Marikina, MCU and HK Plaza.

Abella said that the government’s PUV modernization  program has earned the support of other transport groups.

“It is worth mentioning that, with the exception of left-leaning PISTON, the PUVMP has gained the support of different public transport groups,” he said.  “These include the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila and Suburb Drivers Association Nationwide Inc., (PASANG MASDA), Land Transportation Organization of the Philippines (LTOP), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), Stop and Go Coalition, and majority of provincial transport cooperatives all over the country.”

“The government, through the LTFRB, will continue with the discussions, consultations, and further collaboration with members of the public transport sector, particularly in explaining the financial scheme available to PUJ operators and drivers who wish to avail of new units through financing of government financial institutions,” he said.(MNS)

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