The AP Partylist would like to reiterate our stand on the issue of jeepney phase-out that we made together with Coco Martin during our Grand Rally in Cebu last March 1.
We stand by our position that we oppose NOT the improvement of our transport system which will benefit everybody—our commuters and the environment—but the JEEPNEY PHASE-OUT that will RESULT in the LOSS OF JOBS at a time when our drivers and operators are still bearing the brunt of the global pandemic, not to mention the volatile oil prices. Unfortunately, the whole modernization program was conceptualized before the pandemic happened. The parameters have now changed.
Even before the 2020 lockdowns that halted public transport operations nationwide for months, the position of the majority, if not all, of the 600,000 jeepney drivers and 300,000 small operators, and their families, is that they SUPPORT the modernization program and respect the political will of this Administration but the main question then and now is: SINO ANG GAGASTOS? Ngayong panahon ng pandemya, hindi biro ang tanong na ito.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the price of modernized PUVs has gone up from P1.6 million in 2017 to P2.5 million in 2020 during the start of the pandemic. As such, the Department of Transportation was forced to increase government subsidy from P80,000 to P160,000. But even our government recognizes that this is not attractive enough to the affected people because, despite the increased subsidy, the monthly amortization or loan payments ranges from P24,000 to P40,000, compared to the average monthly earnings of drivers in the amount of only P8,000.
Hence, AP Partylist seeks the deferment of the jeepney phaseout and supports the government in exploring the RIGHT AMOUNT OF GOVERNMENT SUBSIDY AND FISCAL AND INVESTMENT INCENTIVES so that we can help the TRANSPORT SECTOR MODERNIZE WITHOUT SACRIFICING THEIR LIVELIHOOD.
AP Partylist is also seeking the professionalization of our transport workers to ensure disciplined and safe driving and supports the expansion of government programs to help train and educate them and their families for better opportunities. We are making this stand and advocating these policies based on our consultation with many stakeholders. Even before the campaign period, our nominees and members had been going around to help transport workers and their families through provision of temporary work, ayuda, scholarships, relief goods, free insurance, etc.. Many of our members, including Coco Martin himself, also came from families who struggled to make ends meet and put food on the table by driving a jeep or a tricycle.