Drivers, operators, and transport group leaders demanded on Monday to scrap the Memorandum Circular (MC) 2023-013 and the impending phaseout of traditional jeepneys and UV Express under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).
Dindo Rosales, the Secretary-General of Alyansa Kontra PUV Phaseout, expressed his strong opposition to the anti-people provisions of the PUVMP. However, he reiterated that he is not against the whole idea of modernization, rather he is not fully convinced of the program’s provisions.
“Ayaw namin ng phaseout hindi kami tutol sa modernization; ang gusto namin ay isang modernisasyon na tunay na tutulong sa pampublikong transportasyon, hindi itong nakakamatay na PUV modernization program nila na nagsusulong ng pautang. Pautang po ‘tong programa ng PUV modernization eh,” he exclaimed.
The Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) recently issued the MC 2023-013 that sets a deadline for traditional jeepneys and UV Express franchises to join a consolidated cooperative to continue operations.
Accordingly, the MC enforces operators to purchase the compulsory 15 imported mini buses that costs around P2.4 to P2.8 million each vehicle. It also pushes traditional jeepneys to surrender their individual franchises for the said consolidation.
Defend Job Philippines (DJP), an organization centered on protecting Filipino workers’ rights and welfare, condemned the consolidation scheme, emphasizing that mass transit should be used for public service and not for big corporations to monopolize the public transportation.
“The public transportation should act as a social service and is not treated as a business venture that only gives way to big corporations with the financial capacity to purchase new units and allowing the monopolization of transportation,” DJP statement read.
Moreover, Manibela Chairperson Mar Valbuena pointed out that this franchise consolidation will not only burden jeepney operators and drivers, but can also be an avenue for corruption.
“Hindi niyo po kami mapipigilan dahil po ito ay hanapbuhay po ng karaniwang mamamayang Pilipino na ang paghawak lamang po ng manibela ang alam nila. Buti po sana kung ‘yung mga madidisplace na aming mga kasamahan namin sa transportasyon ay may malinaw na po kayong programa. Ang malinaw lang po ngayon, ‘yun pong maibubulsa ninyo. Hindi po ‘yung programa para po sa pampublikong transportasyon,” he said.
Week-long transport strike
The transport groups are set to stage a weeklong nationwide “tigil-pasada” for traditional jeepneys and UV Express starting from March 6 to 12 to challenge the LTFRB to heed their calls, declaring that the gravity of the strike would paralyze the traffic flow.
Valbuena said that the strike would be held in NCR, Region III, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) and other provinces as well. However, he refused to disclose the specific routes to disable the authorities from preempting the scheduled strike.
“Sa pagsisiil sa aming karapatan, sa aming hanapbuhay, ang ipangtatapat po namin dito sa taning na binigay sa’min– sa taning na mamuhay at sa taning na makapaghanapbuhay, isang linggong tigil-pasada simula March 6,” Valbuena declared.
“Kung hindi ito babawiin itong pinapakiusap namin na Memorandum Circular na inilabas ninyo noong mga nakaraang linggo, tuluy-tuloy na po ito. Hindi lamang po tigil-pasada, itatambak po namin sa harapan ng LTFRB ‘yung aming mga traditional jeep at UV Express para ninyo makita kung gaano ho kami karami,” he challenged.
Meanwhile, National Public Transport Coalition (NPTC) National President Ariel Lim also urged tricycle drivers and operators to join the transport strike in the said places.
“Lahat ng TODA sa buong Pilipinas, ‘pag tumigil sila ‘wag ho kayong bumyahe, ‘wag n’yong ihatid dahil kasama natin sila. Walang mangyayari sa laban nila kapag ang tricycle naghatid ng pasahero sa mga ruta nila. Ang mga tricycle dapat tigil-pasada na rin,” he noted.
The week-long transport strike is sure to affect day-to-day commuters, but would greatly affect the drivers joining the strike; since they will stop operations for a week, there’s a possibility that their food and daily expenses can be affected.
“Nakaya po namin nang halos dalawa, tatlong taon na hindi po kami nakakabyahe. Ngayon pa lamang po yung mga tinanim po nila na talbos ng kamote, mga pinalaki po na mga manok sa kanilang paligid, ‘yun po ang susuporta pansamantala sa kanila. Kakayanin natin ‘yung isang linggo,” Valbuena explained.
Valbuena is affirmative that they’ll be able to survive the week-long strike as they cut-off their primary source of income. He also encourages the public to join them in unity as they lift their sentiments to the government through the transport strike. He said:
“Ngayon pa lamang po paulit-ulit nating sinasabi humihingi po kami ng dispensa pasensya na po sa ating mga mahal na mananakay. Mahal na mahal
po namin kayo sa kadahilanan nga lamang na kami naman po ang ginigipit ngayon. Sana maging katuwang din po namin kayo sa panawagan na ibasura na po itong PUV modernization program na mapaniil.”
Jeepney and UV Express operators and drivers are wholeheartedly decided to push for the week-long transport strike. As commuters, it is a tendency to feel burdened, however, these drivers and operators are facing a heavier load—and the most effective way to lessen this is by taking the chance to appeal by paralyzing the traffic flow.
To reiterate, transport groups Manibela, ALSAJEEP, ACTON, NACTODAP, Laban TNVS, snd NPTC are not against the modernization program, but rather to its provisions and guidelines about franchising and venturing to corporations and cooperatives.