Transport group says PUV modernization program should ‘leave no one behind’
December 31, 2023 | 6:10pm
MANILA, Philippines — A transport group renewed its appeal to the government to leave no one behind in its modernization program as the deadline for the consolidation of public utility vehicles (PUVs), particularly jeepneys, lapsed Sunday.
The year-end deadline pushed through despite protests by jeepney drivers and operators who fear the PUV modernization program will force them off the road by 2024.
Those who failed to file an application to consolidate into cooperatives or cooperation by December 31 will not be allowed to organize into a juridical entity or join consolidated transport service entity.
“We are calling on the administration of [President] Bongbong Marcos to prove that he will not abandon his campaign promise of leaving no one behind,” Piston president Mody Floranda said in Filipino in an interview with TeleRadyo Serbisyo. He was referring to Marcos’ presidential campaign slogan: “Sama-sama tayong babangon muli.”
“Many drivers and operators are relying on Marcos’ promise,” Floranda added.
The transport leader also urged the Supreme Court to recognize the importance of public transport in the country. Piston earlier asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the franchise consolidation requirement.
The modernization program aims to replace jeepneys that are 15 or more years old with newer and cleaner units, and consolidate operators and drivers into cooperatives or corporations.
Drivers and operators recognize the need to upgrade the iconic but polluting jeepney, but they stress the cost of modernization is too steep.
Floranda once again warned that the government’s push will lead to a transport crisis.
“If we’re not allowed to renew our franchise, we will experience a transport crisis. And, of course, if a transport crisis occurs, the economy will suffer a downturn,” he said.
Echoing the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Andy Ortega, who chairs the transportation department’s Office of Transportation Cooperatives, said a “transport crisis” will not happen.
Last week, the LTFRB allowed unconsolidated jeepneys to continue plying certain routes until January 31, 2024.
“The extension is more of a due process that needs to be given to them,” Ortega told TeleRadyo Serbisyo.
He claimed that “almost all” major routes serviced by jeepneys have already consolidated.