‘Ugly, characterless’: Poe warns impact of PUVMP, phasing out of iconic jeepneys to Philippine tourism

Senator Grace Poe on Sunday, May 5 warned that the supposed “modern” jeepneys the government is pushing under the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program could bring undue damage to the Philippine’s tourism campaign considering the country’s iconic jeepney is famous around the world. 


Poe pointed this out as she weighed in on the possible negative impact of the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) on the country’s tourism campaign should the government insists on phasing out Philippine jeepneys that’s been considered a cultural icon. 


The senator lamented that while other countries are bent on preserving their own cultural trademarks, the government is hell-bent on absorbing and importing mini-buses from other countries to replace the country’s traditional public transport vehicles which it can help improve. 


“Eh di ba sa Bangkok, andyan ‘yung ‘tuk tuk’; pumunta ka sa UK (United Kingdom) andyan yung double decker buses nila. So meron talagang karakter at value sa turismo kasi kakaiba nga eh. Yung mga jeep natin dito, talagang naging sikat (Bangkok as their own ‘tuktuk’, if you go to UK, they have have their double decker buses. Their transport vehicles really have character and value to tourism because of their uniqueness. Our own jeepneys also became popular because of it),” Poe said in an interview on Radio DZBB. 


“Ang pangit di ba? Parang mga kahon na hindi maintindihan. .. pangit di ba? Kasi parang walang karakter. Walang kaluluwa yung mga designs (Aren’t they ugly? They look like boxes…they’re ugly, right? It looks character-less. Their design are soulless),” she lamented.


Poe said she could not understand why the government would rather patronize other countries’ transportation vehicles when it can help elevate local transportation and helpindustry stakeholders improve the appearance of traditional jeepneys. 


“Iconic ang design ng ating jeep…pwedeng magkaroon ng tweak dun sa design ng jeep para maging mas ligtas at convenient (Our jeepneys have iconic designs… you can tweak the designs of these jeepneys to make it safer and more convenient for the public),” she pointed out. 


“Pero andyan yung Sarao motors, Francisco motors.. andyan yung mga local manufacturers na hindi lang dapat buhayin, kung di dapat palakasin (But we have the Sara motors, Francisco motors.. we have local manufacturers that not only should we revive but that we should also strengthen),” added the lawmaker.


The government can also require local manufacturers in making jeepney designs that is “friendly” for persons with disabilities (PWDs).


“Kung gusto talaga nilang tulungan ang cultural development, pwede naman kumuha tayo ng mga artists…mahaba kasi ang kasaysayan ng mga yan…since World War 2 days pa (if we are really bent on cultural development, we can tap artists… our jeepneys have a long history…since World War 2 days),” she pointed out. 


At the same time, the chairman of the Senate committee on public services also vowed to scrutinize the utilization of the P200-million fund supposedly for the livelihood assistance for drivers that would be affected by the jeepney modernization program. 


“The consolidation deadline is not the end of the road for raising our concerns on the jeepney modernization . We will keep an eye on its implementation,” she said.


In the next Senate hearing, Poe urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to submit a comprehensive data on the status and revised timeline of the PUVMP and its components; updated statistics on consolidation of jeepneys; the number of routes being serviced, affected routes and contingency plans for these so as not to adversely impact commuters.


Poe also asked the DOTr to disclose its plan for the drivers who lost their livelihood and to shed more information on the status of the implementation of assistance programs for them such as the Entrepreneur and Tsuper Iskolar program.


Also, in order to quickly assist jeepney drivers and operators who did not join the program, Poe urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to set up help desks nationwide.


"Dapat magtayo ng mga help desks ang LTFRB sa mga lugar na maaabot nila para doon pwedeng mag-sign up ang ating mga tsuper kung anong pwedeng tulong mula sa gobyerno (The DOTr should set up help desks in places they can easily access, so our drivers can easily sign up from any of the government services),” she said.


"Kasi sa ngayon, parang merong disconnect o hindi pagkakaintindihan dahil nga hindi malinaw ang programa (Because as of now, there seems to be a disconnect, or miscommunication because of uncertainties in the PUVMP),” she added.