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Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), is calling for a just and inclusive approach to the government’s public transport modernization program, prioritizing the well-being of small operators and drivers while safeguarding the environment.

In a statement released today, Caritas Philippines President Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo stressed the organization’s support for modernizing the country’s public transport system, but cautioned against leaving thousands of Filipinos behind.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to improve public transportation,” Bagaforo said. “However, we cannot condone a modernization process that disregards the human cost. We urge the government to ensure a just transition that protects the livelihoods of jeepney operators and drivers, who are the backbone of our transportation system.”

Bagaforo emphasized the need for fair compensation and livelihood support for displaced individuals, including access to retraining programs and financial assistance. “These families are not just statistics; they are our neighbors, our brothers and sisters,” he said. “We cannot let them fall through the cracks during this transition.”

Caritas Philippines also called for investment in locally developed, renewable energy-powered vehicles. “We have brilliant Filipino engineers and entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions for clean transportation,” Bagaforo stated. “Let’s support them and create a future where our public transport is not only efficient but also sustainable.”

The organization also stressed the need to safeguard our heritage and creative spirit during modernization. “Jeepneys are much more than just a mode of transport; they’re an embodiment of our rich cultural tapestry, Bagaforo said. “We must find solutions that honor our heritage and showcase Filipino ingenuity.”

Caritas Philippines expressed its commitment to working with all stakeholders, including the government, private sector, and civil society, to ensure a just and sustainable transition for the public transportation sector. “We believe that a modern and green public transport system is possible, but it must be built on a foundation of social justice and environmental responsibility,” Bagaforo concluded. “Let us work together to create a transportation system that benefits all Filipinos, while protecting our planet for future generations.”