THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) will increase the equity subsidy for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers from P160,000 to P260,000 in support of the government’s PUV modernization program, an official said on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

In a television interview, DOTr Undersecretary Mark Steven Pastor said considering the continuous increase of fuel cost and other basic necessities, the department decided to increase the equity subsidy to a maximum of P260,000 to enable PUV drivers to purchase modern jeepneys.

He said the increase will be launched by the second quarter of 2023.

Under the program, which was initiated by the previous administration, the old and traditional jeepneys will be replaced with high-quality and environment-friendly vehicles with bigger capacity, and that they should operate under a cooperative for the approval of their provisional authority (PA) for franchise.

Pastor said a class 1 modern jeepney costs from P1.4 million to P1.8 million; a class 2 values from P2 million to P2.6 million; while a class 3 amounts from P2.5 million to P3 million.

Transport groups are currently staging protests through the conduct of a one-week strike to oppose the ongoing modernization program, which they said is an added burden to them especially amid the increase of gas price and food.

Groups were urging President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to suspend the implementation of the program.

Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) national president Mody Florida said the transport strike will continue until Marcos issues an executive order junking the program.

Marcos earlier expressed support to the PUV modernization program as he noted the need to ensure the road safety of the PUV for the riding public.

But the President said its implementation needs more discussions among its stakeholders, particularly jeepney driver groups.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista also earlier stood firm on the PUV modernization program although he expressed willingness to extend the franchise consolidation which is now until December 31.

The consolidation ruling directs PUV drivers to join a cooperative or corporation for them to be granted with provisional authority for franchise or else they will no longer be allowed to operate. (SunStar Philippines)