Senator Grace Poe wants her colleagues to look into the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) when the Senate tackles the proposed budget of the agency. To this end, Poe has filed Senate Resolution 819, urging the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the program which transport groups have branded as “anti-poor,” she said at the Transport Unity Summit Against Jeepney Phaseout held at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila yesterday, August 27.
Poe, who chairs the Senate public services committee, clarified that though she isn’t against modernization, she wants to know how the program is being implemented. For her, the government needs to provide drivers the means to procure new vehicles without burdening them unjustly.
“Unang-una, hindi ako against modernization, lahat tayo gusto natin ng modernization pero dapat ayusin nila ang proseso para hindi naman mahirapan ang mga drivers. Alam mo 600,000 drivers ang apektado dito. Kapag nagkansela sila ng mga ruta, anong kapalit no’n? At papaano naman sila [drivers] makakabili ng jeep na P1.2 million hanggang P1.8 million [ang halaga] kung ang ibibigay mo lang ay P80,000 na pang-downpayment (First of all, I am not against modernization, we all want modernization but they should fix the process so that the drivers won’t be overburdened. You know 600,000 drivers are affected by this. If they cancel their route, what will replace it? And how will they buy a jeep that’s worth PHP1.2 million to PHP1.8 million if you’re only going to give them PHP80,000 for the downpayment),” Poe said.
In her resolution, Poe noted that based on the audit report, only PHP88.5 million or 15 percent of the total P569 million budget of the DOTr for the PUVMP has been utilized.
“Dapat sabihin din natin sa DOTr, ano ba ang arrangement sa mga bangko? Dapat ang interest rates ay mababa… Kung ang [ayuda] ay puwedeng taasan nang kaunti kung kakayanin ng gobyerno, bakit hindi (We should tell the DOTr, ‘what’s the arrangement with the banks?’ The interest rates should be low… If the assistance being given by the government could be raised, then why not),” Poe added.
Poe is also wondering why up to now, and even after being assured by the Cabinet, the subsidies for jeepney drivers under the tax reform package have not been released in full.
“Kailangan din nating malaman kung papaano ba nila ipinamamahagi ang mga fuel vouchers na parang walang nakakatanggap, at kung may makakatanggap man, 25 percent lang (We should know how they are distributing the fuel voucher that some are supposedly not getting it, or if they did, they only got 25 percent),” she added.
Poe hopes to have her resolution discussed, if not at the hearing of the proposed budget for the DOTr, at a separate hearing for the Memorandum Circulars recently issued by the agency.
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