Transport groups hopeful of favorable SC ruling

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Transport groups hopeful of favorable SC ruling
Members of the transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) hold their placards in Quezon City on December 11, 2023.
Jesse Bustos / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines — As the deadline nears for the phaseout of traditional jeepneys, militant transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) remains hopeful of a favorable Supreme Court decision on its petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the phaseout under the public utility modernization program (PUVMP).

“We are hopeful that our justices will side with our position so that the transportation sector will continue to serve the riding public,” Piston president Mody Floranda said in a radio interview yesterday.

On Dec. 21, Piston asked the high tribunal to stop the implementation of PUVMP and some government orders related to it.

Floranda added while the protest and transport strikes ended on Dec. 22, members of Piston and another transport group Manibela would continue to attach placards with protest messages to the rear portion of their jeepneys as part of their continuing protest against the phaseout and the Dec. 31 deadline.

Piston filed a petition for certiorari and injunction questioning the legality of the Dec. 31 deadline set for the PUVMP and sought the issuance of a TRO to prevent its implementation until the petition is resolved.

The group also asked the SC to declare the order formalizing the modernization plan and circulars for the consolidation as null and void.

Floranda added that after the one-week strike, jeepney drivers started plying their routes again so they could buy food for their family for Christmas.

“Drivers are now in a difficult situation but they resume operation from Dec. 23, 24 and 25 so that their family can also celebrate Christmas,” he said.

For his part, Manibela president Mar Valbuena said that Piston and Manibela are set to meet again to plan their next move. “We will discuss our next action,” he said.

The transport strike was originally planned until Dec. 29.

“Here in the NCR, more or less 50,000 jeepneys will be affected. It has a big impact as passengers are already affected even if it is only a 10 percent reduction of  jeepneys,” he noted.

Under Memorandum Circular 2023-051, all provisional authorities issued to individual operators and for routes without consolidated transport service entities are deemed revoked by Jan. 1, 2024.

“As you can see, they cannot give a concrete reason behind the public utility vehicle modernization program,” Valbuena said.

He also criticized Marcos for his failure to fulfill his campaign promises.

“How are the promises of the President to the majority who voted for him? We want to hear a concrete solution instead of pride,” he said.

Floranda said the country could face a transport crisis if the yearend consolidation deadline is imposed.

Meanwhile, Floranda criticized the Oil Deregulation Law amid the new round of fuel price hikes.

“At the middle of the holidays, diesel increased by P1.70 per liter and almost P1.80 per liter for gasoline. This is an added burden to the jeepney drivers who are now in the middle of a crisis. It only shows that the government has no control because of the Oil Deregulation Law,” Floranda said.

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