SC asked to halt December 31 PUV consolidation deadline

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
SC asked to halt December 31 PUV consolidation deadline
This Dec. 20, 2023 photo show groups filing a petition against the PUV consolidation before the Supreme Court.

MANILA, Philippines — Transport groups on Wednesday filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court (SC), seeking to suspend the deadline of the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) consolidation which is scheduled on December 31. 

In the petition, the transport groups asked the high court to make all memorandum circulars related to the PUV consolidation be declared “null and void” as they violate certain constitutional rights. 

Among the petitioners are Piston chairman Mody Floranda, KOMYUT spokesperson Ma. Flora May Cerna, Elmer Foro, Bayan Muna Party-list Coordinator Gaylord Despuez, and Jason Fajilagutan.

The PUV consolidation requires all PUV operators to file for transport service entities to be a cooperative or a corporation on or before December 31. 

This is a part of the of the controversial  PUV modernization program which the transport groups repeatedly said will bury drivers and operators into debt. 

Operators who missed the consolidation deadline will face franchise revocation starting Jan. 1, 2024. 

The petitioners argued that the consolidation are only administrative orders and not a law which they said are beyond the authority of the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

“No legislation was passed to support the so-called PUV modernization” program or its various facets including mandatory consolidation, nor has there been any amendment to Republic Act No. 9520 or the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008, Article 4(1) of which provides that cooperatives are voluntary organization,” the petition read.

The group also said that the LTFRB forces them to undergo “cooperativization” which it said violates the constitutional right of freedom of association and Section 4 of RA 9520 or the Philippine Cooperative Code.

“The aforementioned DOTr order and LTFRB circulars are aimed at and have the effect of forcing individual operators of PUVs to form or join consolidated entities at the risk of having their franchises and PAs revoked, thereby, preventing them from operating beyond December, 31, 2023,” the petition read. 

Bayan Muna Party-list expressed its support for the transport group’s plea and urged the government to stop the implementation of the PUV modernization program.

“Bayan Muna urges the Marcos administration to desist from implementing this badly planned attempt modernize jeepneys on January 1, 2024 in the midst of government’s inability to provide adequate, accessible and affordable public transportation,” Bayan Muna said in a statement. 

"2024 will be disastrous on the lives and livelihood of the drivers and operators, and even commuters who have lost so many hours in productive work and income due to the absence of a viable mass public transport system,” it added.

Another transport group, MANIBELA, not among the petitioners, also rushed to the SC to support the filing of the plea.

Citing data from the DOTr and research group IBON Foundation said that 71,395 public utility jeepneys and UV Express units nationwide have not been consolidated, consisting of 64,639 PUJs and 6,756 UVE units.

According to the research group, this means that 140,000 drivers and operators will be affected by the consolidation. The impact of the PUV consolidation was also mentioned in the transport group’s plea.

“This does not even include thousands of drivers and operators already consolidated in cooperatives who are in debt and struggling to make a living,” IBON Foundation said in a November statement. 

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