MANILA - The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is unlikely that the modernization of public utility vehicles will result to an increase in jeepney fares.
Elvira Medina, Assistant Secretary for Commuter Affairs, said jeepney operators would even cut their costs as they will be using more fuel efficient vehicles under the modernization program.
"Mula 2005, uma-attend na ako ng public hearing, malaki daw ang konsumo nila sa spare parts. Bakit hindi e sobrang luma na ng sasakyan mo," she added in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
George San Mateo, president of transport group Piston, earlier said the modern jeeps, which cost P1.6 million each, are too expensive for small operators.
He said the P80,000 loan offered by the government would not help, as amortization will be as high as P800 a day for 7 years, considering 6% interest.
"P800 times 30 days is P23,000. Times 12 months, that's P288,000 in a year. Times 7 years, P2 million. Overpriced pa kasi ang unit mo P1.6 million," he said.
Medina disputes the computation, saying San Mateo is just looking at one foreign supplier, when operators have the choice to purchase modern jeeps from local manufacturers at a much lesser price.
The DOTr official also stressed that these locally-made jeepneys, despite variations and improvements from the old-school look, will be more adherent to the traditional Pinoy style jeeps.
"Ang binasa lang niya, 'yung 'Star 8'. E hindi lang naman 'yun ang source... Marami diyan na less than P1 million," she said referring to jeeps offered by local suppliers.
Transportation officials earlier clarified that they were not phasing out old jeepneys, but were introducing modern, safer and environment-friendly units.
San Mateo, meanwhile, clarified they are not against upgrading jeeps per se but they are against the way it is being implemented by the government.
The costs and the system of the modernization program, he said, would only pave the way for big businessmen to take over the jeepney industry, which would result to higher fares.
"Hindi naman tayo tumututol sa pagsasaayos ng ating mga sasakyan. Ang ating tinututulan lang, 'yung pamamaraan," he said in a previous interview.
Some 2,000 drivers from the "No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition" held a rally at the Quezon City Circle on Monday to protest the modernization program
The transport groups warned that they will mount a larger rally on the President's State of the Nation Address on July 24 if he ignores Monday's protest caravan.