MANILA — Senators emphasized on Friday that jeepney drivers and local manufacturers should be central beneficiaries of the Public Transport Modernization Program (PTMP), amid concerns from a leading transport builder about lack of consultation in the design of modern jeepneys.

According to Philippines News Agency, Senator Robin Padilla voiced strong support for the modernization initiative but stressed the need for involving local manufacturers. This stance came after Elmer Francisco, CEO of Francisco Motors Corporation, revealed that his firm and other local entities were not consulted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in drafting the national standard for the modern jeep. “We were not consulted. The DTI consulted with foreign bus manufacturers to create the Philippine National Standard for manufacturers,” Francisco stated during the hearing.

The current Philippine National Standard (PNS) for modern jeepneys, developed by the DTI’s Bureau of Philippine Standards in collaboration with the Truck Manufacturer’s Association, requires these vehicles to have Euro-4 emissions-compliant engines or better, or be powered by electric motors. The standard was adopted from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources guidelines, noted Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chair Teofilo Guadiz III.

Despite claims of inadequate local consultation, Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Andy Ortega countered that local manufacturers were present when the PNS was formulated in 2017. However, committee chair Senator Raffy Tulfo criticized the preference for foreign consultations, urging, “Stop consulting with these people, especially from China. Our local manufacturers are capable. Let’s give them respect.”

Senator Grace Poe, a former chair of the Senate Public Services Committee, also expressed concerns regarding the impact of the PTMP on jeepney drivers and commuters. Highlighting the high cost of modern jeepneys, the absence of comprehensive route plans, and insufficient safety nets, Poe called for the Department of Transportation to finalize route plans before reducing the number of public utility vehicles, to avoid exacerbating hardships for drivers and commuters alike.

Moreover, Tulfo expressed worries about the involvement of local government units in creating transport routes, cautioning that it could lead to exploitation for personal gain. He advocated for the Department of Transportation and the LTFRB to take a more direct role in managing route planning, with input from operators.

As the debate continues, Poe urged the adoption of more affordable solutions by tapping local jeepney manufacturers and recommended that transport cooperatives and corporations receive enhanced management and training support.

By admin