Don't be cruel: Give 'ayuda' first before PUJ phaseout, says Salceda

Provide ample assistance or "ayuda" first to drivers before phasing out old jeepneys.


This was Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda's appeal to the Marcos administration Sunday afternoon, Feb. 27 amid the move of the Land Transport Regulatory and Franchising Board (LTFRB) to phaseout traditional, fuel-chugging passenger jeepneys by June 30 this year.

“Totally, I oppose it without government providing concrete assistance to help PUJs (passenger utility jeepneys) cooperativize or to provide ample seed funding for their cooperatives,” Salceda said.

“Even the end-2023 extension is not enough," noted the economist solon.

Salceda said that some 50,000 traditional PUJs that have not been consolidated under a cooperative may lose their franchises by June 30 due to Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2023-13 issued by the LTFRB.

As such, the Bicolano said he will be filing a resolution directing the House Committee on Transportation to call for the suspension of the MC.

“I think the policy is especially cruel and inhumane when there are no longer any PUJ subsidies in the budget. Cruel and inhumane when you consider that jeepney drivers were among the hardest-hit sectors over the past three years," he said, referring to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first thing that the government did in early 2020 when the deadly virus hit the country was to limit people's mobility. Thus, many PUJ drivers were sidelined and lost their livelihood.

Modernized jeepneys, which look like mini-buses, began to take over the roads as the threat of the virus waned.

"Without bigger subsidies or government assistance in setting up these coops, you might as well just say you’re killing the livelihoods of the sector," Salceda further said as he stressed his appeal for assistance to PUJ drivers.

PUJs, Salceda estimates, convey between 800k to 1.2 million passengers in National Capital Region alone, “while being the main mode of transportation between towns in the provinces"

“We should take the PUJ modernization push as an opportunity to reshape the public transport sector. But let’s not pauperize an already struggling sector to get that done," he said.

"And frankly, keeping the PUJ sector largely private will eventually create the same problems that we are trying to address right now – bad road behavior, irrational routes, and depressed incomes for PUJ workers," he claimed.