Caritas Philippines urged the government to prioritize the development of a better mass transportation system amidst the controversial public transport modernization program.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of Caritas Philippines said authorities must lay the groundwork for “a more efficient, interconnected, and cost-effective mass transport network that benefits all”.
The prelate also called for “a just and inclusive approach” to the transport modernization program and reminded the government that it has to protect the livelihoods of jeepney operators and drivers affected by the ‘phaseout’.
In 2017, the government introduced a modernization program that aims to develop a modern and environmentally sustainable transport sector.
According to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, only 73% of jeepneys in the country have consolidated for the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.
Authorities will not allow those who failed to apply for consolidation to operate starting Feb. 1.
“We cannot condone a modernization process that disregards the human cost,” said Bagaforo, urging the government “to ensure a just transition” in the process.
The prelate stressed the need to compensate affected jeepney operators and drivers and provide livelihood support for those who will be economically displaced.
“These families are not just statistics; they are our neighbors, our brothers and sisters… We cannot let them fall through the cracks during this transition,” he said.
The social action arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines encouraged the government to “invest” in “locally developed, renewable energy-powered vehicles” instead of purchasing imported vehicles.
“We have brilliant Filipino engineers and entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions for clean transportation. Let’s support them and create a future where our public transport is not only efficient but also sustainable,” said Bagaforo.
The prelate also emphasized that Philippine Jeepneys “are much more than just a mode of transport” but “embodiment of our rich cultural tapestry”.
“We must find solutions that honor our heritage and showcase Filipino ingenuity, while simultaneously building a future-oriented public transport system that addresses the needs of a growing population,” he said.