The Leaders Forum, representing both workers and employers, requests the government to urgently review the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

We believe that this program, which includes the phase-out of jeepneys—a cultural icon in the Philippines—will impact the livelihoods of countless jeepney operators, drivers, and their families.

It is evident that the principles of a “just transition” have not been upheld in the formulation, execution, and oversight of the PUVMP. Critically, jeepney operators and drivers were not consulted about the design of modern jeeps or alternative vehicles. There has been no compensation for the surrender of their existing units. Furthermore, the importation of modern jeepneys, which range from P2.5 to P3 million for an imported vehicle, is prohibitively expensive, making ownership unfeasible for many, even with amortization options. Additionally, the forced consolidation of franchises into cooperatives or corporations—often without genuine consent or equitable participation—is against the spirit of cooperativism and likely to lead to significant collective-action problems.

The PUVMP also seemingly contravenes the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals that “no one should be left behind” in any economic or industrial changes made in response to the climate emergency. The phasing out of jeepneys without providing an affordable alternative for working-class commuters could create a domino effect on domestic businesses and the economy, potentially raising the cost of living and feeding into inflation. This concern further emphasizes the need for a careful and considerate approach to modernizing public transport.

However, we look at the PUVMP, if properly done, could also present an opportunity to enhance the Philippines’ jeepney manufacturing industry and potentially create thousands of jobs for local workers. Unfortunately, the LTO-LTFRB-DOTr group appears to overlook this potential to bolster our domestic automotive industry. Our local jeepney producers currently lack the capacity to produce or assemble units quickly; initial estimates suggest they can produce at most 5,000 units per year. It would take several years for Filipino manufacturers to supply enough electric jeepneys for the nation.

We advocate for increased government support through its financial institutions to build the local jeepney industry’s production capacity. Additionally, adopting a more realistic timetable for the rollout of domestic jeepneys could facilitate this transition.

The riding public, predominantly workers, will face significant inconveniences. The supply of modern jeeps is insufficient to accommodate hundreds of thousands of commuters, even as 38,000 will lose their jobs, as estimated by the LTFRB. Despite the extension of the consolidation deadline by Malacañang to the end of April, there remains no assurance that affordable public transport options will be available thereafter.

We call for an urgent review of the PUVMP in order to address its legal, financial and human rights infirmities; a suspension of the deadline for consolidation for an indefinite period of time; and advocate for the creation of an affordable, sustainable and carbon-neutral mass transport system.

This system should include support for local jeepney manufacturers to design and produce vehicles that are affordable, safe, and environmentally friendly. The government must also back research and development efforts and provide subsidies to ensure that amortization terms for operators and drivers—including those who have already consolidated and fought for elements of just transition into the PUVMP—are affordable and potentially profitable.

Further, we stress the importance of offering skilling, reskilling, and upskilling opportunities within the transport industry and related fields as essential components of just transition. Comprehensive social protection measures should be established before implementing any PUVMP reforms.

Lastly, the PUVMP, being a significant national policy, should have been the direct result of meaningful and effective social dialogue process, backed by research, science and economics. This process must ensure that all stakeholders—including transport workers, commuters, and industry representatives—have a chance to contribute their insights and objections before any transportation modernization legislation or issuance is passed, to safeguard this essential public service.