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DOTr: Consolidation for PUV modernization program non-negotiable


Richmond Mercurio – The Philippine Star

November 23, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) may consider granting the demands and requests of transport groups on the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP), but not the call to scrap the consolidation requirement.

As this developed, transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) ended a three-day jeepney immobilization yesterday with a vow to continue holding decentralized activities with similar organizations until the government heeds their call.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista yesterday said the consolidation of PUV operators and drivers into cooperatives or corporations is “non-negotiable.”

“We are ready to address all their demands. But one very important issue that we said is non-negotiable is the industry consolidation, because we really need the players to consolidate into cooperative or a corporation,” Bautista said.

“We cannot grant their call to not consolidate. We see this as an important component of the PUVMP,” he added.

Transport groups resisted the consolidation requirement, which they said might result in the monopoly of public transportation.

As to the demand of Piston to extend the validity of PUV franchises to five years, Bautista said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has set the guidelines on franchise extension.

Bautista also addressed a concern of Piston on the inability of PUV drivers to avail of the fuel subsidy while the vehicle franchise is being transferred.

Bautista said that PUV drivers and operators should only show valid documents of the franchise’s transfer to avail themselves of the subsidy.

“We are ready to talk to them (transport groups) anytime. Open communication is very important, but we should be honest and serious about the intentions. LTFRB is always welcome to talk to anyone, the same with my office, that is why we encourage to continue the dialogues,” he said.

Piston said the collective struggle against the mass phaseout of the livelihood of public utility vehicle drivers and operators would continue.

It said transport organizations will hold a series of decentralized, coordinated activities at different strike centers.

Yesterday, transport operators and drivers in Cebu launched a strike to show their rejection of the franchise consolidation.

Piston members said that giving up their individual franchises and units means giving up control over their livelihood.

“We demand the junking of the franchise consolidation scheme as well as the mandatory purchase of imported, expensive and non-sustainable Euro 4, electric and solar units,” the group said.

Piston said the government should strengthen and nourish the country’s industrial capacity by building vehicles using local raw materials, which it said would create jobs and produce affordable and sustainable public vehicles.

Transport groups are urging President Marcos to heed their demand.

Manibela president Mar Valbuena said Marcos should see that transport workers have lost their trust in DOTr officials and the LTFRB.

Manibela yesterday launched the first day of its transport strike just as Piston wrapped up its own protest, which started on Monday.

The group junked LTFRB’s promise that it would grant franchises valid for five years, provided operators first comply with the consolidation requirement.

Piston said its three-day strike was successful, noting 95 percent of major routes in Metro Manila and 90 percent in the provinces were paralyzed.

The LTFRB declined to comment on the demands of the transport groups, saying it is still working on their concerns.

Harassed?

Some jeepney drivers allegedly compellled their colleagues to join the transport strike, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

In a statement, the MMDA said it received reports of alleged harassment by striking jeepney drivers.

The agency posted a video showing four drivers engaging in an argument along Dagohoy street in Caloocan.

One of the drivers was allegedly heard warning a colleague, who was driving a modern jeepney, that their members might harm him for plying the route in the wake of a transport strike.

The driver was reportedly furious over the special permit given to modern jeep drivers.

The MMDA said it informed the local police about the incident.

Canceled

Meanwhile, several local government units (LGUs) in Central Luzon suspended face-to-face classes yesterday due to the three-day jeepney strike.

Michelle Lacson, information officer of the Department of Education-Central Luzon, said the LGUs of Pampanga and Angeles as well as Calumpit and Malolos in Bulacan were among those that canceled in-person classes.

The provincial government of Pampanga advised schools to hold online or modular classes or any alternative learning modality. – Mayen Jaymalin, Romina Cabrera, Ghio Ong, Ramon Efren Lazaro

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