Piston eyes transport strike

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Piston eyes transport strike
A jeepney driver conducts regular preventive maintenance at a terminal in Jordan Plains, Sta. Monica in Quezon City on January 3, 2024.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Amid the impending crackdown on traditional jeepneys, drivers and operators are planning to hold a transport strike in Metro Manila as the deadline set by the government to comply with the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) ends on April 30.

In an interview with The STAR yesterday, Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) president Mody Floranda said they have asked President Marcos to order a review of the PUVMP before the end of the three-month extension he ordered. 

“We condemn the impending crackdown as we all know that jeepney drivers and operators are really suffering,” Floranda said.

He was reacting to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Teofilo Guadiz’s statement that the LTFRB would go after colorum public utility jeepneys starting May 1.

“During our meeting with Chairman Guadiz last week, we asked him to study the PUVMP. That’s what we are demanding, especially now that many of those who joined the consolidation program have withdrawn from corporations because since operators joined the cooperatives, they lost their source of income,” Floranda said.

Aside from a transport strike, Floranda said Piston and transport group Manibela are planning to launch rallies.

“For us, holding a transport strike is always an option. We are prepared for all forms of protests, including big rallies,” he said.

Floranda expressed hope that the Supreme Court will issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the government from implementing the PUVMP.

“We are still hoping that the high court will issue a TRO, based on the petition we filed on Dec. 20, 2023,” he said.

Floranda stressed that transport groups are not against the modernization of traditional jeepneys.

“Our position is clear: we are not against the issue of modernization. What we are opposing is franchise consolidation. Why is there a need to revoke the issued franchise to us and order us to enter a corporation or cooperative? The government should acknowledge legitimate transport associations where various operations are part of an association,” he noted.

Based on the report he received, Floranda said among the PUV operators who decided to withdraw from the consolidation program are those from the National Capital Region (NCR), Iloilo, Bacolod, Southern Tagalog and Bicol region.

“Several individual operators have filed their withdrawal to recover their franchise and units,” he noted.

Floranda also contradicted the statement of Guadiz that at least 79 percent of traditional jeepneys nationwide have joined the PUVMP.

“The data he mentioned did not jibe with the total number of modern PUVs plying routes nationwide, with 9,813 jeepneys. In Metro Manila, there are only 1,500 modernized jeepneys operating in 35 routes,” Floranda said.

He said 262 routes are still being served by at least 30,000 traditional jeepneys in Metro Manila.

“Most of those operating here in the NCR are still traditional jeepneys, although there are modern jeepneys servicing commuters along España in Manila and portions of Marcos Highway and Commonwealth Avenue,” Floranda said.

He asked Marcos to reconsider his position on the PUVMP.

“We are hoping that President Marcos can see the importance of public transport. He should allow the local manufacturers to handle the modernization and not countries such as China and Japan, which use the Philippines as a dumping ground for surplus mini buses,” Floranda noted. 

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