Cebu News

RMA: PUV strike didn’t impact Cebu City

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The first day of the supposed nationwide strike against the country’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) did not affect the transport situation in Cebu City, even as several individuals joined the protest.

Road Management Authority (formerly the Cebu City Transportation Office) assistant head Atty. Kent Francesco Jongoy went around different areas in the city and said that overall it did not hamper the daily activities of commuters in the city.

The Federation of Cebu Transport Cooperative also had 100% deployment yesterday to ensure that everyone will be served.

“Wala g’yud naka-hamper even as naay ni-engganyo, encouraged nga mo-apil sa mga traditional jeepney drivers, but wala g’yud as they have seen the impact of modernization of transport,” said Jongoy.

With almost all of drivers and operators in the city already complying with the PUVMP consolidation, commuters here also set for the modernized jeepneys even overloading at times.

“We are very much happy because according to them, 100& of their fleet units have been deployed since early in the morning, since no work-no pay man g’yud ni sila under the program,” Jongoy added,

Jongoy said he will also make a separate assessment concerning the income generated today by PUVs.

RMA, headed by Raquel Arce, also ensured that protesters did not impede the flow of traffic, and the latter complied.

Jongoy also asked if yesterday’s protesters really represented the drivers here.

Meanwhile, members of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) in Cebu called for the lifting of the April 30, 2024 deadline for PUV franchise consolidation, and the junking of the PUVMP, which will result in the phase out of the traditional jeepneys.

As early as 6 a.m., drivers, operators, and supporters of PISTON-Cebu started to gather at four rally areas in Cebu City.

The protesters gathered in Mabolo, Carreta, P. del Rosario Street, and Gorordo Avenue to show their stand against the forced consolidation of their franchises and jeepneys inside cooperatives and corporations.

“Padayon g’yud mga nakigbatok ni ani nga programa sa LTFRB kay moguba kini sa among panginabuhian,” said PISTON-Cebu chairman Greg Perez.

PISTON-Cebu decided to join the nationwide protest to show that Cebu, the country’s second biggest urban center, has not been spared from the problems caused by jeepney and UV express phase out.

They said this will force them to buy expensive and imported “modern” minibuses.

The consolidation deadline earlier set for December 31, 2023 was moved to April 30, 2024 because of the several strikes and protests held all over the country.

During that time, PISTON-Cebu held a series of dialogues with the LTFRB Region 7 to find out the status of operators who had joined the cooperatives as early as 2019. These operators were confident that by joining the co-ops, they were assured of being absorbed in the consolidation process.

“To their confusion, most of the operators were verified as not consolidated. When the operators confronted the LTFRB officers and liaison officers of the co-ops involved, they began pointing at each other for this lapse. Then they blamed the operators for not doing anything at all,” Perez said.

To console the operators, Perez said they were merely asked to fill up the application forms for consolidation.

Perez said this serves as a warning for the operators in Cebu and elsewhere.

In Iloilo, operators who have already joined the co-ops for some time, and who have been verified as “consolidated” were turned away because the Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) prepared by the LGU and approved by the LTFRB, could no longer accommodate their units, resulting in 800 consolidated units being rejected.

Perez said that a report by the Iloilo No to PUV Phaseout Coalition convenor says that from the 3,000 traditional jeepney units, only about 1,000 units were incorporated into the LPTRP prepared by the Iloilo government, which means the remaining 2,000 units will be phased out.

“Hence, this is just consistent with the plan to eliminate more traditional jeepneys, with operators who have joined co-ops deliberately being excluded from the consolidation process,” Perez said.

He added that this is relevant to the Cebu situation because as soon as the Bus Rapid Transit begins to operate, all modern and traditional jeepneys will no longer be allowed in the BRT route.

In effect, Perez said PISTON was right in saying all along that the PUVMP was designed to phase out the traditional jeepneys.

Perez further said that the PUVMP will deprive small operators of the capacity to manage their own jeepneys and franchises, a practice that has helped them eke out a living and allows them to offer public transportation at an affordable price. (CEBU NEWS)

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