Transport strikers set up camp before LTFRB, vow to stay ‘until demands met’
December 14, 2023 | 2:15pm
MANILA, Philippines — Piston and the No to PUV Phaseout Coalition have already set up camp in front of the LTFRB Central Office to protest the PUV modernization program in its current form, which they say threaten the livelihood of tens of thousands.
The camp out kicked off on the first day of Piston’s transport strike this Thursday, following President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s announcement that there will be no exention to the December 31 consolidation deadline.
“The groups demand the LTFRB, DOTr, and the Marcos Jr. regime immediately junk the mandatory franchise consolidation component, the December 31 deadline for its application, and the entire PUV Modernization Program,” said the groups.
“Marcos Jr. is causing an unprecedented transport crisis and massacre of livelihood by denying the extension of the deadline for franchise consolidation on December 31, 2023.”
Operators and drivers of traditional jeepneys and UV Express were earlier given the said deadline by the government to consolidate into cooperatives and corporations.
Those who fail to consolidate would lose their individual franchises and will not be allowed to continue to ply their routes anymore.
Phasing out of traditional jeeps
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) earlier said that the actual deadline for public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization is in 27 months after December 31, which they say is “enough time” for traditional jeeps to modernize into more environmentally friendly vehicles — signaling the actual phase out of old jeeps.
Transport groups however say that modern minibuses and e-jeeps would bury them in debt since it costs P2 million per unit and above. The DOTr earlier stated that financial aid is available for cooperatives.
Piston earlier said that over 100,000 drivers and operators would join the protests. The MMDA today said that it had already deployed more than 600 vehicles to aid commuters who will be affected by the strike.
Marcos Jr. using misleading data
Bongbong earlier said that there will be “no more extension” on the consolidation of traditional jeeps since 70% of all operators have already committed and consolidated under the PUVMP.
However, a closer look at the consolidation data sent by LTFRB spokesperson Celine Pialago this morning says that the data mentioned by Marcos Jr. includes not only traditional jeepneys and UV Express units but also public utility buses.
This includes 153,787 units of jeepneys, UV Express and buses. Over 262,653 operators, drivers and allied workers have so far joined the program and consolidated into entities. This totals to up to 1,739 cooperatives nationwide.
“There are 64,639 unconsolidated units nationwide, 30,862 of which are PUJs and 4,852 UV Express units in NCR. This amounts to an estimated 60,000 PUJ drivers and 9,000 UV Express drivers, 25,000 PUJ operators and 4,000 UV Express operators in NCR alone,” said Piston and the No To PUV Phaseout Coalition.
“Marcos Jr. and his cohorts in the DOTr and LTFRB do not seem to care for these thousands of informal public transport workers. Is this the ‘minority’ Marcos Jr. is talking about? Even if they are, Marcos Jr, DOTr, and LTFRB seem tho think that these livelihoods do not matter at all.”
“The PUV Modernization Program, its franchise consolidation requirement, is flawed, anti-poor, and only serves the interests of big businesses. It is only right and justified to strike against these policies.”
The groups fear that over 140,000 drivers and 60,000 operators could lose their livelihoods due to the controversial PUVMP.