PISTON knocks on SC: Halt PUV consolidation deadline

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — In a last effort to attempt save their livelihoods, jeepney drivers led by transport group PISTON asked the Supreme Court (SC) to postpone the implementation of the public utility vehicle (PUV) consolidation a day before its deadline. 

In a 17-page petition filed by the transport group on Monday, it “reiterated” their request to the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the memorandum circulars issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) concerning the consolidation deadline. 

In the group’s petition, it assailed the department order (D.O.) issued by the government on Dec. 29, 2023, a day before the original December 31 consolidation deadline.  

“Ibig sabihin hindi talaga handa ang gobyernong ‘to sa pagpapatupad, kasi at that time, December 31 ang deadline, December 29 naglabas pa sila ng bagong D.O. pero nag-reiterate kami ng motion na i-grant ang TRO,” Neri Colmenares, one of the lawyers of PISTON, said in an interview with reporters.

(This means that this government was really not prepared for the implementation because at that time, the deadline was December 31, they issued a new D.O. on December 29, but we reiterated the motion to grant the TRO.)

“Napaka-simple lang ng hinihingi ng mga tsuper at operators dito,…pwede bang i-TRO muna habang hindi pa nagdesisyon ang Korte Suprema? Kasi kapag na-cancel na ang prangkisa simula bukas, kahit manalo kami sa petisyon maibabalik pa ba ‘yan?” he asked.

(The request of the drivers and operators here is very simple... Can we temporarily stop the implementation while the Supreme Court has not yet made a decision? Because if the franchise is canceled starting tomorrow, even if we win the petition, can it still be reinstated?)

The PUV consolidation is a program under the PUV modernization program (PUVMP) which requires jeepney operators to consolidate into corporations or cooperatives for them to be allowed to ply routes.

The jeepney drivers said that this program will bring them a financial burden as they will be required to acquire “modern jeepneys” with prices that can reach up to P2.8 million.

PUV consolidation deadlines

The first deadline was initially set by the government on Dec. 31, 2023. It was then moved by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Jan. 31, 2024.

In fears of a transport crisis, Marcos, through the recommendation of Transport secretary Jaime Bautista, once again moved the deadline of the consolidation to April 30, 2024. 

However, on April 10 this year, Marcos said that there would no longer be any extension for the PUV consolidation deadline. 

Affected routes

Starting May 2024, jeepney drivers who did not consolidate into corporations or cooperatives will be considered “colorum” and will not be allowed to ply routes.

Citing data from the DOTr, these are the following number of routes that will be affected once consolidation has been implemented, according to the petitioners: 

  • 313 jeepney routes in Metro Manila
  • 122 jeepney routes in Region 1
  • 74 jeepney routes in Region 2
  • 40 jeepney routes in Region 3
  • 166 jeepney routes in Region 4A
  • 140 jeepney routes in Region 4B
  • 451 jeepney routes in Region 5
  • 68 jeepney routes in Region 6 
  • 11 jeepney routes in Region 8
  • 57 jeepney routes in Region 9
  • 35 jeepney routes in Region 10
  • 8 jeepney routes in Region 11
  • 93 jeepney routes in Cordillera Administrative Region

If the TRO is granted, however, the memorandum circulars of the DOTr and the LTFRB will temporarily have no effect until the SC decides on the case, according to one of PISTON’s lawyers Kristina Conti.

In January, the Land Transportation Office revealed intentions to enlarge its impoundment facilities to handle the apprehension and impoundment of unregistered jeepneys.

Meanwhile, PISTON first assailed the memorandum circulars of the DOTr and LTFRB on Dec. 20, 2023. 

However, the high court did not issue a TRO on the circulars rendering them still in effect.

Aside from PISTON, other transport groups are holding a transport strike today until tomorrow, April 30 to protest the implementation of the PUV consolidation and the PUVMP. 

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