To demonstrate its commitment to modernize public transportation, the government has entered into an agreement to financially assist drivers and operators in migrating into the new system.
On the eve of the Labor Day celebration, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman (LTFRB) Martin Delgra III, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, and Land Bank of the Philippines President Alex Buenaventura signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting up a financing program for jeepney modernization in a ceremony held in Davao City last April 30.
“Perhaps it is providential indeed that we sign this memorandum of agreement today. Ito pong financing program na ito ay munting regalo ng ating pangulo, through the DOF and Landbank, sa ating jeepney operators at drivers,” said DOTr Sec. Tugade.
The Landbank, through its SPEED (Special Environment-Friendly and Efficiently-Driven Jeepney) program, will institute a loan facility that will provide credit to individual drivers and operators for the replacement of their PUJs in accordance with the government’s PUV Modernization Program.
Under the program, an initial budget of PhP 1 Billion for Individual Loans shall be awarded to 650 PUJ Operators/Drivers in Metro Manila, for them to be able to loan a jeepney with a minimum requirement of Euro-4 engine or better.
“The lending packages are very generous. It offers low equity, longer payment period, and very low interest rates,” said LTFRB Chairman Delgra.
He added that the modernization program is an effort to overhaul the transportation system of the country, from the quality of units to the quality of drivers.
“We are looking at public transportation that is adequate, safe, and comfortable. We’re looking at a travel time that is predictable. We’re looking also at PUV drivers that are disciplined, competent, and mindful of the common good,” Chairman Delgra said.
Finance Secretary Dominquez, for his part, appealed to drivers, operators, and the commuting public to give the program a chance.
“We must convince jeepney drivers and operators that this is the way to go. They must understand that the financing package will make the shift affordable,” said Domiguez, who is also the Chairman of Landbank. “The public must understand that our inefficient dinosaur, the PUJ, must now be relegated to the museum. It is dirty, inefficient, unhealthy and unsafe for commuters. It is time we bring our public transport to the 21st century.”
The LTFRB likewise assured drivers and operators that there is nothing to worry about.
LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada said: “Do not worry. Trust us that what we are doing is for the development of our country, which is also for your welfare and for the upliftment of the socio-economic status of your respective families.”
There are over 220,000 registered PUJs nationwide, of which 90% are 15 years old and above. They are the biggest source of CO2 emission resulting to 5,000 deaths annually.
More specific details of the financing program is already being worked out by the DOTr and Landbank, and will soon be made available to the public for guidance.