Unconsolidated jeepneys given '15-day leeway' after consolidation deadline

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Unconsolidated jeepneys given '15-day leeway' after consolidation deadline
A supporter of drivers of passenger jeepneys displays a banner along a street in Manila on April 29, 2024 on the first day of the jeepney strike ahead of the deadline on April 30 for operators to join a cooperative and gradually replace their fleet with modern vehicles.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Unconsolidated jeepneys that continue to ply their routes after the April 30 deadline will be free from penalties until mid-May — but they will be fined and impounded as "colorum" vehicles should they continue after initial reminders.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) had this to say as the deadline to consolidate into cooperatives and corporations lapses on Tuesday.

"My directive to the LTFRB right now is that initially, during the first 15 days, we only warn and remind people. We will not [impound] them immediately [starting May 1]," LTFRB chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III in Filipino last Monday in an interview with dzBB.

"But in the event that despite our proddings, should they continue with their trips, I think it is already the right of the state to implement the law and have their vehicles impounded." 

Traditional jeepneys and UV Express units have only until Tuesday to consolidate in lieu of the government's public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program, a policy which will later on phase them out in favor of Euro-4 and electric vehicles.

Transport group PISTON is currently on its second day of "tigil-pasada" to protest the consolidation deadline and PUVMP, which they say will drive drivers and operators towards unemployment and bankruptcy. The modern vehicles could go as high as P2.8 million each.

"It's well within their right to keep their livelihood by operating. But it is also the right of the state to implement the law," Guadiz said.

"Initially we will give them [a leeway]. We will tell them to stop operating and issue them show cause orders. But despite all of this and if they still continue, it will be the [Philippine National Police] in partnership with the LTFRB, who will implement the law. We will then impound them."

Violating the said policy would cause not only the impounding of vehicles in Tarlac, but also a P50,000 fine for jeepneys on top of a one year suspension of said driver. The board says that they have already given transport groups "enough time" after eight extensions.

Legal challenge vs PUVMP

PISTON on Monday criticized Transportation Undersecretary Andy Ortega after the latter mentioned that PUVs would only be considered colorum once LTFRB guidelines are officially released, calling the policy "lacking, unclear" and far from their demand to haave the PUVMP junked.

"This only proves that the LTFRB and [President Ferdinand] Marcos Jr. are short sighted with forcing their deadlines," said the group.

"We want security in our livelihood. The Marcos government needs to come out with a policy abolishing the business and pro-foreigner PUVMP."

Guadiz earlier confirmed that over 30% of PUVs plying their routes in Metro Manila to be colorum, which could significantly impact the commuting public should they be taken off the roads haphazardly.

The Supreme Court has yet to take action on PISTON's earlier petition for a temporary restraining order on the PUVMP, a situation which pushed them to file for a supplemental petition for a TRO.

PISTON previously said that they are not against modernizing PUVs but instead asking for a "just transition" that wouldn't bankrupt and rob people of their livelihood.

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