Transport groups, consumers, environmentalists hail Just Transition bill

House Bill No. 7428, or the “Just Transition to a Modernized PUV Sector Act”, earned the kudos of the Koalisyon para sa mga Transportasyon ng mga Mamayan (KTM), Konsyumer, and the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) for its provisions on ensuring the economic viability and environmental sustainability of the country’s transport sector.
The bill was filed by Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez of the 1st District of Manila and is currently pending in the Committee on Transportation.
“The government’s plans on transport modernization ignores the people to be impacted the most: the drivers and small-scale operators who would bear the brunt of the costs. While modernization is necessary to improve the safety of the sector and minimize its contributions to the climate emergency, it cannot happen without considering the severe economic impact of dislocating the small players. House Bill 7428, by mandating the integration of just transition principles to the modernization policy, bridges this gap in government planning,” said Leody de Guzman, spokesperson of KTM.
The bill also garnered the support of consumers, as the continued drive for modernization raised fears of increased transport costs at a time when the country is facing its worst recession.
“We hope that this bill will allow our PUV transport sector, the segment of transport that commuters use every day, to be modernized without further burdening consumers with higher transport fares. In the absence of widespread government support for consumers who may have lost their jobs, every form of government assistance to mitigate the increase in the costs of living is appreciated,” said Primo Morillo, National Coordinator of Konsyumer.
CEED, a sustainability think-tank which published a groundbreaking paper on Just Transition in 2018, lauded the measure but emphasized that it is just the first step in ensuring that no one is left behind as the country adjusts to the new normal imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The bill addresses the first phase of the just transition framework in our 2018 paper – addressing the immediate displacement issues of marginalized sectors in the frontlines of the transition by providing subsidies, loans, and aid to all affected transport workers. We hope that this bill, once passed into law, would spur the creation of more policy initiatives to align people’s interests and developmental needs, and to create a low-carbon economy and a society founded on ecological and social justice,” said Avril de Torres, Head of the Research, Policy, and Law Program at CEED.
The think-tank’s concerns were echoed by KTM, which expressed its hope that the bill can serve as the blueprint for other sectors affected by the pandemic.
“So far, it seemed like the new normal has only offered more opportunities for those who are already very rich, which means it’s just like the old. The Just Transition Act is a way for the marginalized to be a part of a true new normal, one which is based on equity and not just the interests of the elite,” said de Guzman.