December deadline is for consolidation, not phaseout: LTFRB

By Wilnard Bacelonia

March 2, 2023, 7:09 pm

MANILA – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Thursday clarified that the end-of-the-year deadline it set for the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) is for the program’s consolidation and not for the phaseout of traditional jeepney units.

"The deadline is for the consolidation, urging the drivers to come together, consolidate as one, and start the formation as a cooperative in pursuit of the modernization," LTFRB Chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III told lawmakers during a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Public Affairs chaired by Senator Grace Poe.

"If they are not consolidated by Dec. 31, they will not be removed because for now, we're trying to help them consolidate, and we will continue to assist them, seeing to it that no one is left behind. That is my commitment and the commitment of my agency. That is what we intend to do," he added.

After the consolidation, Guadiz said the other stages of the PUVMP scheme would follow.

"One of which is probably introducing them with a bank for a study on the route and the funding. The phaseout would be the last stage. Wala pa po kami sa stage ng phaseout. Malayo pa po yan (We are not yet on the phaseout stage. We are still far from that)," he said in answer to Senator Jinggoy Estrada's query on the timeline of the PUVMP.

According to Guadiz, 62.4 percent or 98,801 PUV units nationwide have already been consolidated.

He said he hopes the remaining 165,000 units would be formed into transport cooperatives or corporations before the year ends.

997 Sandigan Transport Cooperative Chairperson Ferdinand Lupangosy, who was also present during the hearing, sees the process as a solution in monitoring the part of the operators and identifying the legitimate PUVs from the illegitimate.

"Dun po sa consolidation na tinatawag, identified na kung sinong coop or corporations ang nasa ruta. Hindi na po yung napakaraming indibidwal na hindi po natin alam kung bumibyahe ba talaga sila dun sa oras ng kanilang byahe (In the so-called consolidation, we could identify which cooperative or corporation belongs to what route. Unlike when we have a lot of individuals and we don't know if they follow their assigned traveling time)," Lupangosy said, citing the case of unmonitored “colorum” or illegal PUVs.

"So, kung pupunta po tayo dun sa side na parang pipigilan po natin yung consolidation, siguro po ang pinaka da best na gawin natin ay palakasin natin mismo ang LTFRB para mabigyan ng pwersa yung mga panghuhuli dun sa mga maling operations (So, instead of stopping the consolidation, maybe the best thing we can do is empower the LTFRB to apprehend illegal operations)," he added.

The 997 Sandigan Transport Cooperative runs 19 modernized jeepney units with 19 operators, 38 drivers, 38 passenger assistance officers, 3 mechanics, 5 staff members, and 6 dispatchers.

Poe's committee decided to hold the hearing after all senators unanimously adopted on Tuesday Resolution 44, strongly urging the LTFRB to suspend the planned phaseout of traditional jeepneys on June 30.

Hoping the hearing would put the program on the right track, Poe is proposing to enact the Just and Humane PUV Modernization bill, which will be based on discussions and compromises.

"This bill will serve as the agreement among all stakeholders on the specific direction, which the PUV modernization will take. And it will be our basis for accountability should the program lose its way again," she said. (PNA)