Bigger transport strike set ahead of PUJ phaseout

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Bigger transport strike set ahead of PUJ phaseout
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) approved a provisional P1 increase in the minimum fare of both traditional and modern jeepneys.
Jesse Bustos / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines — Transport group Manibela yesterday said it is preparing a “bigger” strike to oppose the Dec. 31 deadline on the phaseout of traditional jeepneys.

The protest could be held side by side with another transport group, Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), as they announced a planned mobilization before yearend.

In separate interviews with The STAR, Manibela president Mar Valbuena and Piston national president Mody Floranda confirmed they have discussed holding a transport strike on the same day. 

“Ka Mody already reached out to me after we both attended the meeting last Friday,” Valbuena said.

“I am now communicating with Manibela so that we can hold a joint transport strike,” Floranda said.

Valbuena added that the strike “will be bigger” and will depend on when the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will release the new memorandum circular on the public utility vehicle modernization program.

There was also no concrete answer from the LTFRB if the Dec. 31 phaseout will proceed, he noted.

“What was discussed during the meeting was the problems encountered by those who modernized. They did not give direct answers to our queries regarding the Dec. 31 deadline,” Valbuena said, referring to the Oct. 27 meeting attended by Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, LTFRB and Land Transportation Office officials.

During the meeting, many cooperatives disclosed that their modernized units were repossessed due to loan default and others expressed intention to return their units as they can no longer sustain the payment for the vehicles.

“Based on our figures of the total number of modernized jeepneys, 40 percent of these were already repossessed and others said they suffered losses,” Valbuena said.

Those who reported that their units were repossessed include cooperatives in Central Luzon, National Capital Region and Region IV, he added.

Floranda said that the government’s PUV modernization program was a failure.

“In the last seven years of its implementation, there were only 9,813 modernized jeepneys and we only have two months before the deadline,” Floranda said, adding that the bulk or 155,000 traditional jeepneys are threatened by the phaseout.

“Many cooperatives testified like the modernized jeepney plying Novaliches to SM West; they cannot pay their monthly amortization. Aside from these, they are now facing labor cases as drivers and conductors complain that the cooperatives failed to give the promised benefits,” he noted.

Manibela on Oct. 16 held a nationwide transport strike to urge the government to take action on the alleged corruption in the LTFRB. Scores of traditional jeepney operators joined the strike.

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