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Moratorium on new PUV franchises lifted

MANILA, Philippines - Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, along with other government officials, yesterday signed at Camp Aguinaldo the Omnibus Franchise Guidelines (OFG) giving the go-signal to lift the 13-year-old moratorium on new franchises in public utility vehicles (PUVs) despite resistance from some groups.

The OFG, titled the Omnibus Guidelines on the Planning and Identification of Public Transportation Services and Franchise Issuance in full, is the starting point of the landmark PUV modernization program of the Duterte administration, which has met opposition from various transport groups from the start.

The signing of the OFG starts the three-year transition period of the modernization program.

Tugade shrugged off claims that the PUV modernization program was anti-poor, saying that they are only looking out for the livelihood of the sector, hand in hand with the safety of the riding public.

Tugade said they are open to more dialogues, as well as changes on the provisions in the program brought about by the concerned stakeholders.

“We promise to push through with the dialogues, conversations where points need to be tackled and considered for possible changes. Don’t shoot down a program that has come to take off after (13) years. Let’s give the government a chance, and the understanding and trust that it needs,” he said in Filipino.  

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The OFG requires local government units to produce a local transport plan which will become the basis for the issuance of new franchises for PUV operators.

It also mandates the consolidation of the industry for more efficient fleet and resource management.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has partnered with other government agencies for a comprehensive financing program for PUV operators and drivers.

Assistant Secretary Marc de Leon said the government is ready to subsidize around 10-15 percent of the new units, which would amount to about P80,000.

The program sets certain specifications which would include emission standards, design and safety equipment for each unit.

The public utility jeepney (PUJ) sector, however, is expected to be the most affected by the program, as it accounts for almost half of the entire transport industry.

Around 180,000 PUJ units account for the estimated 400,000 PUVs in the country in total, according to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Martin Delgra III.

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