A leader of a national transport group on Saturday expressed dismay over the drastic increase in prices of modern jeepneys and called for its price monitoring from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Orlando Marquez, president of the Liga ng Transportation at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP), in an interview, said the price of a modern jeepney in 2017 was around PHP1.4 to PHP1.6 million but it has now skyrocketed to about PHP2.5 million.

“Nung itinaas na nila, wala ng (When they raised the prices of modern jeepneys, there was no) public consultation. Ang liwanag ng batas. Na kapag public consumption ang ating pinag-uusapan, dapat may (The law is clear that when it comes to products of public consumption, there should be a) public hearing,” Marquez said during a showcase of modern Public Utility Vehicles (PUV) at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, in an interview, said the agency is monitoring the prices of modern jeepneys.

“There are different features so different prices. And there are many suppliers so there’s competition. We are also developing local suppliers,” he said in a Viber message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Marquez said the DTI must take control of prices of modern jeepneys.

“Nagtataka kami sa DTI dahil sila ang may hawak ng price-ceiling control ng Pilipinas. Bakit hindi kumikibo ang DTI? (We’re wondering because the DTI controls the price-ceiling in the Philippines. Why is the DTI not doing anything?),” Marquez said.

He said the PHP80,000 subsidy promised by the government to help operators in purchasing modern jeepneys was based on a price tag of PHP1.4 to 1.6 million.

“Nagkaroon ng public consultation noong ideklara ni Secretary Tugade kung magkano ang presyo ng mga makabagong sasakyan. Ang mga car manufacturers ang nagdeklara ng PHP1.4 to 1.6 million. So na-come out ‘yung PHP80,000 na subsidy (There was a public consultation when Department of Transportation [DOTR] Secretary Arthur Tugade declared the price of a modern jeepney. And the car manufacturers declared a PHP1.4 to 1.6 million price tag. The PHP80,000 subsidy was worked out from that),” Marquez said.

Rowel Tolentino the group retail manager of Foton GMA Cavite, which Marquez called as one of the dealers with the most reasonable prices, said the drastic price increase was an accumulation of several factors, one of which is the late release of the Philippine National Standard (PNS) for PUV Class 2 and 3.

“So ano po ba ‘yung PNS na tinatawag? Diyan po nilabas ‘yung sukat ng upuan, ‘yung sukat ng aisle, ‘yung dapat na sukat ng sasakyan. Ang Class 2 and Class 3 naglalaro po ‘yan hanggang 7 meters lang. So nahuli po yun, hindi agad na-anticipate kung magkano ‘yung chassis, kung ilan ba ang lalabas na seating capacity (So, what is this PNS? This is where the dimensions of seats, aisle, dimensions of the vehicle itself were released. Class 2 and Class 3 PUVs are somewhere around 7 meters long. So this was released late and the prices of the chassis and others were not anticipated),” Tolentino said.

He added that prices for steel, accessories and others have risen since 2017.

If the DTI was to control the prices of modern jeepneys, Tolentino said it was imperative to monitor the cost of materials used by manufacturers and the prices of accessories required by the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

“Monitoring of cost of materials. Tama pa ba ‘yung nilalabas ng builder? (Is the price the builder is releasing still right?) Cost of accessories? Kasi ang supplier ng accessories, ang naglabas din naman niyan, LTFRB (Because the list of suppliers of accessories has been released by the LTFRB),” Tolentino said.

To help spur the PUV modernization of the Duterte administration, the DOTr offered an PHP80,000-subsidy for drivers and operators who would buy a modern jeepney to replace their old one.

In October 2018, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Richmund De Leon said the department is eyeing to increase this subsidy as prices of modern jeepneys have increased. (PNA)