MANILA – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is still open to discuss with jeepney operators their requests to extend the validity of their franchise to five years as long as they consolidate into a cooperative to comply with the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).
In a media briefing Monday, LTFRB chair Teofilo Guadiz III said the agency would discuss this afternoon with members of transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) their concerns about the program such as consolidation, franchise validity term and complying with requirements.
“Sa ngayon kasi binibigyan lang namin sila ng provisional authority na one year para i-timing po namin ito sa modernization program. But the moment na sumali sila sa modernization program pwede pa rin naman po namin ibigay 'yung five years na hinihingi nila (They have one year provisional authority but the moment they join the modernization program we can give them the five years they are asking),” Guadiz said.
PUV operators should consolidate into a cooperative by Dec. 31, 2023 as it will be a requirement for vehicle registration next year.
"Ako po ay umaasa na sana po ay mapagbigyan din tayo ng Piston na mag-usap at tingnan namin 'yung mga areas na pwede namin silang pagbigyan, 'yung mga areas na pwedeng ayusin. My office is open po sa mga request nila, ang usapan lang ay alin po don ang kailangan ng konting panahon (We will look into areas that we can agree on and fix. My office is open to their requests, we just have to clarify which ones need longer time)," Guadiz said.
Piston is holding a three-day transport strike to protest the government's PUVMP until Wednesday to protest the consolidation requirement of the program as well as other recently proposed amendments to the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines.
Guadiz said about 60 percent of PUVs have complied with consolidation policy under the program.
"We expect at least 85 to 90 percent until December 31 since we already simplified 'yung mga proseso po sa pag ordinance/organize ng isa pong kooperatiba," he said.
Guadiz said the preliminary step toward modernization is forming a cooperative, clarifying that operators may choose not to buy a new unit.
"So as long na your jeep is working, pasado po 'yan sa LTO pwede pumasa 'yan (LTO would approve)," he said.
"From the time po na mag-consolidate sila o bumuo po sila ng isang kooperatiba, pwede pa ho silang pumasada hanggang sa ang LTO ang magsabi na hindi na pwede ang sasakyan nila (From the time they consolidate or form a cooperative, they can still operate until the LTO tells them that their vehicle is no longer allowed)."
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Romando Artes said there was no disruption so far due to the transport strike.
"Well, we can categorically say na hindi naman po naparalisa yung pampublikong transportasyon base na rin po sa aming tala. Out of 686 na vehicles, 66 pa lamang ang aming nadeploy, at aming pong masasabi na baka nga po na normal Monday morning rush hour foot traffic lamang ito," he said.
While he downplayed the impact of the first day of the transport strike, Artes said the MMDA would continue to monitor the situation until Nov. 22.
“We are ready for the three-day strike and we will respond depending on the situation,” he said.
Both the national and local government units have deployed vehicles and free rides to augment transportation in areas affected by the strike.
Earlier, Guadiz said the PUVMP’s goal is not to phase out traditional jeepneys but to modernize the transportation system and upgrade units to comply with environmental and safety standards.
Simplify modernization requirements
At the House of Representatives, AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee has filed a resolution urging the concerned agencies to simplify requirements of PUVMP.
“Landbank and DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) should also comprehensively review its existing policies and expeditiously streamline its processes, especially if interested PUV drivers and operators have cleared requirements with the LTFRB and the Land Transportation Office,” Lee said in House Resolution No. 1474 he filed on Monday.
Landbank and the DBP provides adequate funding to PUV operators and drivers under their SPEED PUV Loan Program and the Program Assistance to Support Alternative Driving Approaches (PASADA Financing Program), respectively.
Lee noted that many PUV drivers and operators are worried to lose their source of livelihood due to this modernization program.
“At nauunawaan po natin ito dahil sabi ko nga, ang ating transport sector ay hindi lang isang public service, higit sa lahat, ito po ay kabuhayan ng napakarami nating kababayan (And we understand this because as I said, our transport sector is not just a public service, more than anything else, it is the livelihood of many of our countrymen)," Lee said.
The party-list lawmaker lamented that the majority of jeepney drivers and operators do not have the capital to buy the modern jeepneys, “which is why they need easier access to loans."
“It is in the best interest of our nation, especially the riding public, to simplify all the requirements and existing processes of LTFRB, Land Bank and DBP, including but not limited to, fleet modernization, loan and financing, and industry consolidation, among others, in order to achieve the objectives of the PUVMP,” Lee said. (With a report from Mary Jade J. Santos/Zaldy De Layola/PNA)