Jeepney phaseout runs counter to PH’s SDG commitments

Manifestation of Senator Pia S. Cayetano on the plan to phase out traditional jeepneys
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking

I join my colleagues in expressing concern over this issue. I commend the Chairperson, Sen. Grace Poe, for taking up this resolution. Although this starts with a transportation issue, I would like to point out, what our colleagues have also discussed, is that this affects not just transportation. Obviously, it affects the jeepney drivers and their families. And this goes directly to SDG 1 which is No Poverty. Clearly, our jeepney drivers are contributing to our economy. And therefore, this also includes SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth. But your honors, they cannot contribute to economic growth if they do not have decent work, when they will be losing their jobs.

So I want to put on record, your honor, that as we discuss the issue of sustainable transportation, which I would assume is the objective of DOTr, people’s lives are affected. And that’s where SDG 1 and SDG 8 come in.

But I’d also like to put on record, our former Chairman of the Committee on Energy will recall that during his hearings on electric vehicles, I had pointed out the importance of the jeepneys in our traditions and culture. The jeepneys, as everyone, I think everyone here will still recall, most jeepneys of our youth were decorated lavishly in very vivid colors representing different aspects of Filipino culture and life. And time and again, when we talk about the transition to e-vehicles, I would always point out two things: (1) the Philippines has had the unique opportunity to transition after World War II these vehicles that were used during the war into what became an everyday means of transportation. So that in itself, the jeepney itself as a structure, is part of our culture and traditions. And second, (2) the art that goes on these jeepneys again form part of our art and our culture.

Does it mean that we do not move forward? That we do not innovate? No. That is not what it means. But it means that we shouldn’t leave behind this amazing representation of our culture that we have created.

This innovation that happened maybe half a century ago or more, is something we should seriously consider. When the government determines that it will subsidize the jeepney drivers with a measly P160,000 when the total cost [of a modern jeep] is P2 million, it’s a joke, your honors. It does not clearly allow our drivers to make a decent living. And it is contrary to SDG 8, which we are committed to. We are a signatory to these SDGs, your honors.

And let’s recognize that these innovations were made by various Filipino companies. Our colleague from Cavite, Sen. Francis Tolentino mentioned Sarao. The other company that I remember is Francisco Motors. And I know there are others. And has the government thought of supporting these companies so that they can continue to innovate and thrive during this time?

These are questions that I hope can also be tackled, your honors, in the coming hearings. So on that note, I’d like to point out one more SDG: SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. Obviously, when we think of sustainable cities, our vision includes walkable cities, bikeable cities. The Senate has done our part, we’ve passed that bill. And then we think about sustainable transportation as a whole. And that is public transportation that is easily accessible to the public, which would include trains, buses, and they can include jeepneys or whatever we want to transition into. But it must always consider sustainability. This particular SDG 11 also includes customs and traditions.

And so my fervent hope is that we include this in our discussions in the coming hearings and again, I thank her honor for taking this up and bringing this to our attention. Thank you, Mr. President. #

“When the government determines that it will subsidize the jeepney drivers with a measly P160,000 when the total cost [of a modern jeep] is P2 million, it’s a joke, your honors. It does not clearly allow our drivers to make a decent living.”
Expressing strong reservations on the government’s plan to phase out traditional jeepneys, Senator Pia S. Cayetano noted that the plan runs counter to several PH commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, namely: SDG 1 (No Poverty); SDG 8 (Decent Work and Sustainable Growth); and SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).

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