Piston gears for another transport strike

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Piston gears for another transport strike
Driver members of the transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) get ready to take part in the Caravan protest from Quezon City to Mendiola in Manila slated today, January 16, 2024.
Edd Gumban / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines — The transport groups Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) and Manibela are planning another transport strike 11 days before the threat of a crackdown on unconsolidated public utility jeepneys (PUJs).

Mody Floranda, Piston president, noted in an interview with The STAR over the weekend that a lot of possibilities can still happen between now and Jan. 31, the deadline to consolidate the vehicles under the public utility vehicle modernization program or PUVMP.

“On Jan. 24, the House committee on transportation will again conduct another investigation and we will attend it and, of course, we are still awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court,” Floranda said.

Piston asked the high tribunal last Dec. 21 to stop the implementation and ultimately void the government orders related to the PUVMP.

In its petition for certiorari and injunction, the group questioned the legality of the Dec. 31 deadline set for the PUVMP and asked for a temporary restraining order to prevent its implementation until their case is resolved.

It also asked the court to declare the order formalizing the modernization plan and circulars for the consolidation as null and void.

“We are hoping that the High Tribunal will acknowledge the importance of the public (transport) sector,” Floranda said, noting that a crackdown on unconsolidated PUJs would affect the riding public as well as the drivers and operators.

“It is not only the drivers and operators who will be affected but also the commuters. Based on the data released by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), at least 313 routes in Metro Manila did not consolidate, meaning you will remove the services of public transport to the commuting public,” he pointed out.

LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz earlier said law enforcers would apprehend the unconsolidated jeepneys because these would already be considered as engaging in colorum operations after the deadline.

“No less than (members of) Congress said that the LTFRB has no legal right to remove the franchises of our public transport as it is based on the provision of Republic Act 4136 compared to the provisional authority which was only based on an executive order,” Floranda said.

He also criticized the LTFRB move to downplay the impact of the Jan. 31 deadline set on unconsolidated PUJs to operate.

“This (downplaying of LTFRB) does not help as you will (deny) a big portion of public transportation to our commuters, in case the government will not allow us to provide services to the public,” Floranda said.

He maintained that the plan of LTFRB to issue special permits to consolidated public utility vehicles to operate in affected areas will not solve the problem.

“These consolidated vehicles cannot provide enough services in Metro Manila,” Floranda said.

Aside from the transport strike, Floranda said they would also be considering protest actions and caravans to voice their stand on the issue.

“We will have different forms of protest that we can launch like a protest rally, transport strike not only in the NCR, but nationwide. Piston and Manibela are discussing these (options),” he added.

Floranda called on President Marcos to fulfill his campaign promise to ensure the operation of PUJs.

“We call on PBBM to hold on to his campaign promise that he will allow the jeepneys to operate as it is not only being acknowledged in the Philippines, but also worldwide. Even his sister Sen. Imee Marcos supports the call that the PUVMP should be studied… so that necessary consultation will be made not only to the drivers and operators, but also the commuters who will be affected by this program,” he said.

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