Senate to tackle PUV modernization issues next week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — The Senate hearing on the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization will start on Monday, a week after a transport group canceled a two-day nationwide strike to protest the policy.

Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on  Public Services, moved the hearing from December 7 to 11 to  accommodate Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Poe said members of transport group Pinagkaisahang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON), as well as some taxi operators, will be at the hearing.

"Unang-una gusto nating ayusin ang gusot sa gitna ng DOTr, si Sec. Tugade, at 'yung mga miyembro ng ibang jeepney organizations katulad ng PISTON, kasi ayaw naman natin na maantala pa at ang ating mga kababayan ay mahirapan lalung-lalo na't magpapasko," she said in a radio interview Sunday.

[Translation: We want to fix the row between the DOTr, Secretary Tugade, and members of the jeepney organizations like PISTON. We don't to further inconvenience motorists and commuters especially over the holidays.]

The modernization program includes phasing out PUVs that are over 15 years old, to be replaced by vehicles with "low-carbon and low-emission technology."

READ: DTI unveils plans for modern jeepney

PISTON and No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition were supposed to conduct a nationwide strike on December 4 and 5 to protest the PUV modernization, which they claim is only a "marketing program" of expensive vehicles being imposed upon them.

READ: Transport group cancels nationwide strike on Dec. 4-5

However, the group canceled the strike after Poe said she will call for a hearing, and instead held caravan protests.

PISTON National President George San Mateo is out on bail, following his arrest for leading a transport strike in February.

READ: Transport group leader George San Mateo posts bail

PISTON also conducted a nationwide strike on October 16 and  17, which prompted suspension of government work and  classes all over the country.

READ: Palace suspends gov't work, classes in all levels on  Oct. 17

President Rodrigo Duterte, after the October strike, said the  modernization program will push through next year at any cost.

"January 1, pag hindi niyo na-modernize 'yan, umalis kayo.  Mahirap kayo, p***** i**, sige. Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam," Duterte said.

[Translation: If you haven't modernized by January 1 get out.  You're poor, son of a b****. Wallow in misery and hunger, I don't care.]

READ: Duterte to transport protesters: Modernize jeeps by year-end or get out