No extension of deadline for PUV consolidation – Marcos

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
No extension of deadline for PUV consolidation � Marcos
Drivers of traditional jeepneys wait for passengers at a terminal in Manila on February 3, 2023.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Days before the planned transport strike, President Marcos announced that the deadline for the consolidation of public utility vehicles (PUV) operators would not be extended, emphasizing that the program that seeks to modernize the sector should not be hampered by a minority.

The decision not to prolong the consolidation period was made during Marcos’ meeting with transport officials yesterday.

“Adhering to the current timeline ensures that everyone can reap the benefits of the full operationalization of our modernized public transport system. Hence, the scheduled timeline will not be moved,” the President said in a Facebook post.

Marcos disclosed that 70 percent of operators have committed to and consolidated under the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP).

“We cannot let the minority cause further delays, affecting majority of our operators, banks, financial institutions and the public at large,” he said.

Transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) has announced plans to hold a transport strike from Dec. 14 to 15 to express its opposition to franchise consolidation, a key component of the PUVMP.

Piston, which also staged a three-day transport strike last month, claimed that the PUVMP would deprive thousands of transport operators and drivers of livelihood.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said the PUV modernization program seeks to make commuting and public transportation operations “more dignified, humane and at par with global standards” and provide a “safer, more efficient, reliable, convenient, affordable, climate-friendly and environmentally sustainable” transportation system.

Under the program, launched in 2017, transport cooperatives will be formed and will be entitled to benefits like state subsidies and access to credit facilities to aid in modernizing their fleets and run them in a “systematic and predictable manner.”

Transport operators are required to consolidate by the end of the year.

68,830 affected

As Marcos bucked the extension of the yearend deadline for consolidation, over 68,000 public utility vehicles stand to lose their franchises by the new year.

The LTFRB said 70 percent of PUVs have complied with the consolidation requirement of the PUVMP.

The agency added that a total of 153,787 units of jeepneys, UV Express and buses are set to be consolidated by Dec. 31, which leaves 68,830 PUVs that could be left without franchises and will not be allowed to ply their routes starting Jan. 1, 2024.

Piston warned that it could paralyze transportation in Metro Manila and that over 100,000 workers could join the strike.

“The government is sloppy in its entire modernization plan so they are just forcing it. The people will bear the brunt of their sloppiness,” the group said in Filipino in a statement.

Despite the bleak numbers, the LTFRB said the 70 percent consolidation rate exceeds its 65 percent target for the more-than-six-year long PUVMP.

Data from the agency showed that a total of 262,653 transport operators, drivers and workers have joined the PUVMP and have consolidated into entities.

There are now a total of 1,739 formed cooperatives nationwide.

Piston claimed that these figures are misleading and that jeepney consolidation in the National Capital Region (NCR) is only at 26 percent while this could be at 36 percent for UVEs.

The LTFRB earlier said there would not be a transport crisis and that they are ready to address any possible gaps once the consolidation deadline has passed.

LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III said they welcome the support of some transport groups, which staged an assembly on Mendiola, Manila and Quezon City for the PUVMP.

“The modernization program is crucial for uplifting the overall quality of public service, and we look forward to its positive impact on the commuting experience for all,” Guadiz added.


The lack of safety nets for drivers and operators who will bear the brunt of the Dec. 31 consolidation deadline for the public PUVMP should warrant its review, according to Sen. Grace Poe.

Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, yesterday warned that pursuing the Dec. 31 consolidation deadline would affect thousands of drivers who have yet to organize themselves into cooperatives.

“You can’t blame the drivers who are afraid to join the cooperative because of the amount of funds needed, and the DOTr (Department of Transportation) has no training in managing money and PUV units,” she said in Filipino.

The senator also said that to date, only 9.5 percent or 155 of the 1,575 local government units have approved route plans, a requirement in the PUVMP.

“It is alarming to see that the protections we advocated for drivers in the PUVMP fund were not approved,” she added.

For 2024, Poe said the PUVMP program would get a P1.6-billion budget, but it does not include measures to protect the livelihood of some 300,000 drivers.

“We were promised to study the program again before any deadline this December. But it’s still like the past six years – all we’re getting here at the Senate are promises,” she added.

Funds have been set aside for the DOTr since 2018 to formulate a route plan for PUVs, according to the senator.

She stressed that the route rationalization study is a crucial component of the program, since it will determine the number of jeepneys, UV express and buses needed to ply a particular route, which will ensure the viability of their operations.

“Why are there so many deadlines and requirements for the driver while the DOTr and LTFRB deadlines for their route are not fulfilled,” Poe said.

“Now, they are promising again that there will be an approved route for half of the country by June 2024, but since this provision is not in the budget, we will probably have to rely on nothing,” she added.

Of the P2.5 million cost per unit of modern jeepney, the government will subsidize only 8.4 percent or P210,000.

Poe said the government would need at least P63 billion, which is not in the 2024 budget, to subsidize around 300,000 PUV units.

She said PUV drivers could not be blamed for organizing another transport strike to air their legitimate concerns against the PUVMP.

Poe had filed Senate Bill 105 to ensure a “just and humane public utility vehicle modernization program” by providing affordable loans to jeepney drivers and cash subsidies to those who would not be able to comply with the new policies.

The measure is still being tackled at the Senate.

“Our call for a thorough study and reform of PUVMP before the DOTr imposes deadlines is reasonable. I also call on my colleagues to help us prioritize the enactment of the just and humane PUV Modernization Act.”

Courting disaster

For militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Marcos is courting disaster in the transport sector with his refusal to extend the Dec. 31 deadline for public utility vehicles to consolidate their franchises.

Citing data from the DOTr, Bayan president Renato Reyes said only 57 percent of PUJs and 65 percent of UVEs have consolidated their franchises nationwide.

Reyes added that Marcos’ decision not to extend the deadline would result in a massive displacement of operators and drivers, which “will be disastrous for millions of Filipinos.”

“Marcos appears to be OK with thousands of drivers and operators in the NCR losing their livelihood and hundreds of thousands of motorists inconvenienced by the lack of public mass transport,” Reyes said in a statement.

He added that the Chief Executive’s decision showed that he has no empathy for the riding public even during the Yuletide season.

Reyes said they sympathize with drivers who have no other recourse but to go on strike to stop the loss of their livelihood. – Romina Cabrera, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Emmanuel Tupas

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