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Commuter group stands with March 6 transport strike vs PUV phaseout

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Commuter group stands with March 6 transport strike vs PUV phaseout
A passenger sits next to signage of "No Vaccine No Ride" inside 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 — Commuters are going to be the most affected during the week-long protests starting March 6 to 12 against the impending jeepney and UV Express phaseout.

However, that will not stop some of the riding public from supporting the striking drivers and operators since modernization in its current form "might hike fares to P35."

"PARA - Advocates for Inclusive Transport (PARA-AIT), an alliance of public transport commuters announced its support for the planned week-long transport strike against the public utility vehicle (PUV) phaseout starting March 6, adding their voice to the growing condemnation of the national government’s import-dependent, debt-trap PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP)," said PARA-AIT, Friday.

"The high costs of the PUVMP will definitely become a burden to commuters. PARA-AIT estimates that the minimum fare in an imported 'modernized' minibus would need to be as high as P35 in order to pay for the exorbitant price tag of modernization — almost thrice the current traditional jeepney minimum fare."

Transport groups Manibela, PISTON and Laban TNVS earlier announced their plans to halt operations starting next week in opposition to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board's order to stop individual operators from plying their routes after June 30 should they not join a "consolidated entity" in their transition to modernized jeeps or electric minibuses.

Transport groups earlier lamented this due to the expenses that come with surrendering individual franchses into a Fleet Management System, forcing them to purchase 15 vehicles that cost up to P2.8 million each

LTFRB chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III announced last Wednesday that they're willing to delay the consolidation of PUVs until the end of December 2023 after groups announced the transport strike, effectively allowing tens of thousands of jeepneys and UV Express units to continue operations until the end of the year.

PARA-AIT acknowledges that there's a valid case to pursue cleaner, low-emission modes of public transport. However, imposing a deadline for thousands of EV Express and traditional jeepneys without clarity of a "fair and just transition program" they say would mean less public transportation for millions of students and workers whose producticvity and mobility rely on affordable means.

Around 40,000 jeepney and UV Express vehicles are expected to participate in the strikes in the National Capital region Alone while urging commuters to support them. According to Manila president Mar Valbuena, protests will also be held in Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bacolod, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Bicol.

The Department of Transporation earlier said they are confident that the week-long transport strike would not push through should talks start between the government and the transport groups. According to Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista, dialogues should not be just between the LTFRB and groups and should be attended by DOTr officials, as well to clear out issues.

The LTFRB earlier said that only 60% of the target number of vehicles for modernization have complied with the requirements under the program such as industry consolidation into cooperatives. The remaining 40% continue to ply routes using traditional jeepneys.

'Really? During high inflation?'

PARA-AIT believes the PUV modernization in its current form could be seen as an "extensive offensive launched by the government" against PUV transport workers and commuters especially that the Philippines is facing a staggering 8.7% inflation rate.

"As commuters themselves who are in solidarity with transport groups, PARA-AIT recognizes the democratic right of PUV transport workers to hold strikes," they continued.

"They consider strikes and similar forms of action as the most powerful tools to demand better services and a fair PUV modernization program that actually benefits the masses, and not just the few companies who will directly gain profit from the current PUVMP setup."

They call on other public transport commuters to amplify the demand for the suspension and thorough review of the PUVMP by supporting the transport strike in favor of a "pro-people, pro-worker, and inclusive public mass transport modernization program."

vuukle comment

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

JEEPNEY PHASEOUT

LTFRB

PISTON

PUBLIC UTILITY VEHICLE

TRANSPORT STRIKE

UV EXPRESS

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