ILOILO City –The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has dropped the plan to totally phaseout old public utility jeepneys (PUJ) by July 2020. Local transport groupswelcomed the move. But they have some reservations. He added: “Lain gid ya kon kami gapasad. Mabal-annamon ang ibutang nga mga materyales.”/PN Should theyfail to submit their petitions, their routes will be opened to applicationsfrom cooperatives that were able to modernize their units, the DOTr stressed. “We are happy,”according to Raymundo Parcon, president of the Iloilo City Loop Alliance This did notsit well with local transport groups. “Diin nga region may pinakanami mag obrasang jeep? Indi bala diri saIloilo? Kompara mo sa mga kompaniya sangmga salakyan nga haruson isa ka tuig nagakalkal na tungod nga mass producedila. Ti karun magkwa kami sang P2.4million nga salakyan, maglab-ot twoyears basi madagdag na kaha ya,” saidParcon. Passengers wait for their turn to board this jeepney in Barangay Buhang, Jaro, Iloilo City. The jeepney is the core of Philippine public transport. It started as remodeled army vehicles left behind by US forces after World War II. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN Through Sen.Grace Poe who chairs the Senate public services committee, Parcon’s grouppressed for the following: However, hesaid, there are some points they want to raise to the national government. Jeepney driversare actually not against transport modernization, stressed Parcon, and they infact formed the Western Visayas Transport Cooperative (WVTC) to procure modernjeepneys as required by DOTr. * to considerPUJ rehabilitation instead of purchasing modern but cost-prohibitive PUJs “Imbes nga buligan kami sang gobyerno, daw gina-threaten pa kami,” said Parcon. “We are fortransport modernization. But we want to protect individual jeepney operators,too. The program should not lead to the displacement of individual operatorsdue to the consolidation of their units into transport cooperatives,” saidParcon. * to extend thetransition period of the modernization program for another three to five years. DOTr is lettingold jeepneys remain on roads as long as they pass the motor vehicle inspectionsystem or roadworthiness test. Modern jeepneysare required to have, among others, Euro 4 engines that meet the European Unionemission standards on harmful chemicals (such as toxic sulfur, benzene andcarbon dioxide, etc.), Global Positioning System, automatic fare collectionsystem, dashboard camera, speed limiter, and closed-circuit television camera. He appealed tothe government to let individual jeepney operators buy their own Euro 4 enginesand built the body (kaha) of theirjeepneys instead of outright purchasing a modernized jeepney that costs P2.4million. But under thisrevised timetable, PUJ operators whose units have passed the road worthinesstest will be granted a provisional authority (PA) only that is valid for oneyear. After a year, their units will have to undergo the test again. To apply for aPA, the DOTr said operators must submit a petition for consolidation of unitsfor a transport cooperative in June 2020 as well as a petition stating theirintention to join the modernization program. “We will followthe DOTr criteria for modern jeepneys. We want to have compliant units, too,because we want to officer the public better service,” said Parcon. DOTr said theJune 2020 deadline was scrapped because very few jeepney operators across thecountry have modernized mainly due to financial constraints. of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association. Their group isespousing that individual PUJ operators be allowed to modernize their ownunits. Despitedropping the plan to phase out old jeepneys by June 2020, DOTr will still pushthrough the modernization program. “Kon kami mabakal sang makina, kami mapasad sang kaha,malab-ot lang guro sa P1.5million,” said Parcon, stressing that Iloilo jeepney builders are known for thegood quality of their work. Thegovernment’s move to modernize jeepneys aims to improve public transport safetyand minimize air pollution.