Philippine Senator Pilar “Pia” Cayetano urged the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to investigate why a passenger electric jeepney burst into flames along Katipunan Avenue on May 13.

In a statement released Sunday (May 17), Cayetano, who heads the Senate Subcommittee on Sustainable Transportation, raised safety concerns after photos circulated in social media, which showed the scorched and disfigured chassis of the vehicle.

No one was hurt, but the incident caused massive traffic on Katipunan, a busy Quezon City thoroughfare, near the UP Town Center.

The senator also raised concern as the City Optimized Managed Electric Transport (COMET) e-jeepney that went ablaze was operating without a franchise.

“Of course we all love these environment-friendly vehicles, but it doesn’t mean they can operate without regulation, especially if there are safety issues,” she said.

Cayetano added that she had already called the attention of both the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the DOTC on the issue of franchising during the Senate budget hearing last year.

“They promised to look into it,” the senator said. “But here we are more than six months later with a big problem at hand.”

The LTFRB issued its first public-utility electric jeepney franchise in 2012.

Top Gear earlier reported that some bystanders claimed the fire was due to arson, but was later refuted by an officer of COMET distributor Global Electric Transport (GET) who told Top Gear that the e-jeepney caught fire on its own.

GET temporarily halted operations and announced on its Facebook page that it would resume on the first week of June after safety inspections and a systems upgrade.

The 16-passenger COMET e-jeepney is manufactured by US-based Pangea Motors. It is powered by a 30kW, 150Nm motor that makes use of lithium-iron phosphate batteries. This electric vehicle is said to have the ability to travel up to 100km on a four-hour electric charge. It has a top speed of 60kph.

(reports by Top Gear PH and CNN PH)