Transport groups stage protest caravan as DOTr set to sign modernization plan


Two transport groups staged a protest caravan on Monday in a bid to stop the government from pushing through with the modernization program for public utility vehicles (PUVs).

PISTON and No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition banded together for the protest in front of the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) after holding a prayer vigil Sunday night to defer the implementation of the PUV modernization program.

PISTON president and NTJPC co-convenor George San Mateo said that around 1000 members would be joining the caravan.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade will sign the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines of the PUV modernization program later in the day.

The program aims to make vehicles environment-friendly, and seeks to form a fleet management that would give drivers a fixed monthly salary instead of the common practice of having a “boundary”.

A “boundary” is fixed amount collected by transport operators from their drivers at the end of the day, the excess of which becomes their take home pay.

“With the implementation of the PUV modernization program, operators are expected to consolidate in order to ensure better fleet management,” the Department of Transportation said.

San Mateo said, however, that small jeepney operators did not have enough money to finance the shift from the present jeepneys to solar-powered vehicles or those with Euro-4 Engine.

San Mateo said drivers and operators could instead rehabilitate instead of replacing the jeepneys.

Franchises issued to PUVs will also be according to ocal public transport plans, instead of the current system where these are dependent on route proposals of operators, according to the DoTr.

“The LTFRB and the Department of Transportation are just fooling operators when Chairman Martin Delgra 3rd said that there is no phase-out policy implementation,” San Mateo had said.

Despite reiterating that there is no phaseout, the LTFRB drafted a program that would remove jeepneys considered no longer road worthy so that operators could focus their attention on funding new ones.

A memorandum of understanding has also been signed in April, stating that Landbank will assist in financing operators, offering an equity with a 6% interest rate.

The full implementation of the program will begin by early 2019, the LTFRB said.

The two transport groups have been protesting since November 2015. REICELENE IGNACIO



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