Piston slams June 30 jeepney phaseout order, says minibuses worth P2.8-M burying operators in debt

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Piston slams June 30 jeepney phaseout order, says minibuses worth P2.8-M burying operators in debt
Signage that reads "No Vaccine No Ride" (L) is seen on the windshield of a passenger jeepney in Quezon City, suburban Manila on January 17, 2022, as the Philippine government banned unvaccinated people from using public transport amid a record surge in coronavirus cases.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa, File

MANILA, Philippines — Transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) called on the national government to halt the impending prohibition of individual operators of traditional jeepneys in plying their routes after June 30.

They instead urged to revise the PUV Modernization Program that is "burying poor drivers and small-time operators deep in debt."

This came after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board approved its Memorandum Circular 2023-013 last Monday which states that only traditional jeepneys who join "consolidated entities" like corporations and cooperatives will have their provisional authorities extended until Dec. 31, 2023. Extensions will no longer be granted, said the LTFRB.

The said consolidated entities are to be set up supposedly to enable operators to afford the purchase of "modern" electronic jeepneys via loans from financial institutions.

But Mody Floranda, Piston's national president, said that the aforementioned vehicles are still too expensive and put people's livelihood at stake with the current set up.



P2.8-M minibuses vs P200,000 jeepney units

Under the Department of Transportation's Department Order 2017-011 or Omnubus Franchising Guidelines, traditional jeepney operators are mandated to surrender their individual franchises for consolidation into a Fleet Management System, forcing them to purchase 15 imported minibuses per designated route.

According to Floranda, a modern minibus costs around P2.4 million to P2.8 million a piece, compared to a traditional jeepney unit that would only set you back at around P200,000 to P600,000.

"It's clear that the the PUVMP is a failure up to now, since many operators continue to resist being subject to this while surrendering their franchises and livelihood," said Floranda in Filipino, Wednesday.

"[Once] they surrender their individual franchises, they risk losing their sources of income should they fail to bear the brunt of the high costs of modernization."

Just this month, LTFRB chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III revealed that only 60% of the target number of vehicles for modernization have complied with the requirements under the PUVMP such as industry consolidation into cooperatives. To this day, 40% still continue to ply routes using traditional jeeps.

Franchises of traditional jeeps were supposed to expire last March nationwide and end-April in Metro Manila, but were just recently extended.

Piston argued that compulsary franchise consolidation is an "entry point for the corporate capture" of small-capacity public transport, as only giant corporations would have the financial capacity to purchase the required 15 minibuses to operate a single route without being buried in debt.

In September 2022, modern jeepney operator "Byahe" by business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan announced that they would spend more than P1.5 billion to acquire 500 "modern jeepneys" to ply at least 35 routes nationwide by 2027.

'Not against modernization but for better transition'

While the group calls for stopping the jeepney phaseout this 2023, Floranda's group says that Piston is not totally against the modernization of jeepneys — they just want "just transition."

The state's PUVMP insists on replacing jeepney engines that are 15 years or older, with new, safer and environmentally friendly vehicles that are at least Euro-4 compliant or has an electric engine.

Currently, the Philippines does not have its own industry big enough to absorb the transport workers that might be displaced by the current schemes of the PUVMP, said Piston.

"We continue our call for a modernization that's based on the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the old jeepneys in order to for it to be cleaner and more comfortable," continued Floranda.

"[We are] for the development of our own manufacturing industry so that we can create more jobs for the millions of workers that currently have no formal jobs, that instead of forcing small operators [to purchase] incredibly expensive and imported minibuses that starts to flood our country while not having a direct benefit to the economy."

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