DoTr urged to work with Landbank, DBP to help purchase modern PUVs

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A PHILIPPINE senator has urged the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to work with state-run lenders Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) to buy modern public utility vehicles (PUVs) to make up for the shortage in PUVs allowed to ply existing routes.

Under the PUV Modernization Program, traditional jeepneys are supposed to have their franchises consolidated into corporations or cooperatives and replaced with PUVs powered by at least a Euro-4 emission compliant engine.

But many operators and drivers of traditional jeepneys defied the consolidation order due to the prohibitive cost of replacing them with more environment-friendly vehicles.

“The DoTr must take the wheel and ensure that the modernization program doesn’t run over the livelihoods of PUV drivers and operators,” Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said in a statement on Thursday.

“It must ask for help from the LANDBANK and DBP along with their asset management entities to make lease contracts out of the amortization contracts for transport cooperatives,” she added in Filipino.

The senator said the DoTr should also consider using its budget for subsidies this year to allow cooperatives to lease modern PUVs.

“After all, it is the government that can initially take on the risk of making the investment in modern fleets because it is more knowledgeable about what lies ahead and seems much less afraid of the risks of the modernization program,” Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel said.

The consolidation deadline lapsed on Dec. 31, 2023, but lobbying from the transport sector prompted President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to grant public utility jeepneys a grace period twice, finally ending last April 30. Further calls to extend the deadline were denied.

Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares has urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to be transparent on whether or not the dialogues with transport groups had eased concerns about loans and other financial aspects of their consolidation. —  John Victor D. Ordoñez