MANILA, Philippines — The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) is seeking a yearlong extension on the consolidation deadline for public utility vehicles (PUVs).
Instead of extending the deadline for just one month, the group said this should be lengthened to a year to make both the government and operators better prepared.
It added that the month-long delay in the implementation of the consolidation deadline only exposes the fact that the government is not ready for the consequences of the jeepney modernization plan.
“The government is not willing to admit the reality but it is aware that the public transport system will fail if the hard deadline for consolidation was enforced last Jan. 1. In fact, not only do j eepney operators and drivers stand to lose their means of livelihood but commuters stand to lose their means of transportation,” PM chair Renato Magtubo said.
PM claimed that about 140,000 drivers and operators could lose their source of living by Feb. 1 based on the estimate that 70,000 jeepneys have not consolidated. It noted, though, that traditional jeepneys with individual franchises have been allowed to continue operating in routes with less than 60 percent consolidation.
It is a different story in Eastern Visayas region, though, as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) reported that 94 percent of PUV operators in Region 8 have already consolidated, as required by law.
This record, according to LTFRB regional director Gualberto Gualberto, puts Region 8 among the highest in consolidation-compliant sectors in the country and ensuring that the modernization program will be achieved in Eastern Visayas.
Records show that 3,480 units of the region’s 3,692 registered PUVs have consolidated since the Department of Transportation launched the PUV Modernization Program in 2017.
Gualberto said this explains why there has been no transport strikes in any part of the region.
Josue Laudenio, one of the region’s transport operators, said that while it is very challenging for small operators to buy expensive modern units, they are willing to comply.
“We are here to get provisional authority to operate until we can borrow funds to acquire modern units. The old jeepney only costs P200,000 per unit, while the cheaper modern one costs P1.4 million,” said Laudenio, wh o leads a transport cooperative in Leyte.
Laudenio noted that some operators have yet to secure loans from government banks to acquire modern vehicles pending the completion of the local government units’ local public transport route plan (LPTRP).
The LPTRP is a detailed route network with specific modes of transportation and the required number of units per mode for delivering land transport services. The document will serve as the basis for the minimum requirement prescribed for the issuance of PUV franchises. – Miriam Desacada, Romina Cabrera