PNP refutes claims of blocking jeepney drivers protesting PUVMP

James Relativo - Philstar.com
PNP refutes claims of blocking jeepney drivers protesting PUVMP
Jeepney drivers and operators hold placards before staging a protest, at a jeepney terminal in Manila on January 16, 2024. Philippine jeepney drivers staged a noisy protest in the capital Manila on January 16 over the government's plan to phase out the smoke-belching vehicles nationwide and replace them with modern mini-buses.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) denied reports of blocking protesting jeepney drivers bound for a transport caravan against the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).

PNP acting public information chief PCol. Jean Fajardo made the statement on Tuesday, after transport groups Piston and Manibela claimed that police officials blocked their members who were bound for a huge protest against the phase out of traditional jeepneys.

Fajardo said that the vehicles were flagged in random checkpoints around Bulacan and Cavite after failing to present "special permits" needed for going out of their designated routes.

"It so happened that their vehicles with signages passed by their areas, so they were asked to present documents from the [Land Transportation Office]," said Fajardo in Filipino at a press briefing.

"Since they couldn't show a special permit that would allowed them to operate outside [the area] of their franchise... the drivers volunteered to not push through instead of being issued tickets."



Manibela president Mar Valbuena earlier said that they were targeting around 10,000 to 15,000 to join their protest on Tuesday. This is far from the PNP estimate of around 500 transport caravan attendees.

Last Sunday, Valbuena said that Tuesday's activity would be a transport strike. However, they later on clarified that it would be a huge mobilization alongside their progressive ally Piston.

Free rides were earlier deployed by the PNP for passengers who would be affected by Tuesday's protests.

'Licenses held'

Manibela on Tuesday said that police officers blocked their members for over four hours at around Daang Hari Road in Cavite and Malolos, Bulacan.

"They [the police] also held their licenses so that they could not proceed," said the group in a Facebook post.



Thousands of jeepney drivers and operators are calling not just for the extension of provisional authority of PUVs but to completely stop the implementation of the PUVMP due to lack of funds and other issues.

The government set the deadline for consolidation into cooperatives and corporations on December 31, which is one of the steps required under the PUVMP.

Drivers who fail to consolidate after the said time period could only operate until January 31 in routes having less than 60% consolidation rates.

The PUVMP aims to eventually replace old jeepney units with modern e-jeepneys and minibuses, which cost over a million.

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