5 May 2019

“Lahat po tayo ay stakeholder sa jeepney modernization program, pero ang gobyerno ang may responsibilidad na pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng mamamayan; operator, driver o commuter man. Kaya dapat marapat lamang na gastusan ito ng pamahalaan.”

Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc is batting for more government subsidy in its Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) to help over 200,000 jeepneys modernize within the next several years.

“Dapat hatian ng gobyerno ang ating mga operators and drivers sa gagastusin sa modernisasyon, o dapat mas malaki ang gastos nito. Ang jeepney ay isang institusyon sa ating bansa at simbolo ng ating pagka-Pilipino, and I feel for all those who cannot afford the change without sufficient government help,” the former ARMM Assemblywoman said.

“Ilang mga anak ang napagtapos at kasalukuyang pinag-aaral ng lahat ng pamilyang umaasa sa jeepney bilang kabuhayan? I’ve heard so many colorful success stories from jeepney drivers who were able to send their kids to school to become lawyers, engineers, doctors and professionals. In a sense, the jeepney is part of our nation-building.”

The former journalist said that if the estimated price of a new eco-friendly jeepney is at P1.6 million, she said the government should at least shoulder half of the amount or more, and not the P80,000 value for a trade-in of old vehicles.

“That amounts to some P160 billion for our 200,000 jeepneys nationwide. The cost of the PUVMP can be spread to five years at P32 billion a year. And I think this is only fair if the government is really sincere in modernizing our old jeepneys, which has now become a health hazard to the people, Gutoc, a recent UNDP N-Peace awardee, explained.

“Malaking tulong po ito sa ating mga operators and drivers, and it will greatly help in our fight to preserve our environment and the people’s health and well-being. I am sure this will have indirect benefits to the government as well, like a reduction in the cost of health care for respiratory illnesses and many more.”

Gutoc also pushed for the institutionalization of the Pantawid Pasada Program or fuel vouchers for jeepney drivers, as they have no reprieve in today’s increasing cost of living.

“Hindi na bumababa ang mga bilihin, pero ang pasahe madalang tumaas. Habang tumatagal, pakonti ng pakonti na ang pinagsasaluhan ng mga pamilya ng ating mga drayber. And considering they ferry 40% of commuters in Metro Manila alone, then this fuel voucher subsidy is justified,” the Marawi civic leader stressed.

“Dapat may forever ang tulong na ito. Malaking bagay ito sa ating mga kapatid na araw-araw ay matapang na hinaharap ang hirap at panganib ng lansangan para sa ginhawa ng kanilang mga kababayan.” ###

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Samira Gutoc, an Otso Diretso senatorial candidate, champions peace. She was recognized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as Filipino of the Year in 2017 and by the Junior Chamber International as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM).