An alliance of school bus operators warned that they will not take any students to their schools on June 13, the first day of classes, because they will hold a protest in front of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) office in Quezon City to demand the extension of the moratorium on the phase-out of vehicles.
The LTFRB said it will no longer allow school service vehicles aged 15 years and older to operate.
According to LTFRB board member Ariel Inton, the school shuttle drivers and operators were given ample time to upgrade and there is no need for any extension as the mandatory phase out was issued in 2013 in a memorandum circular (MC).
The board had already granted the extension request of a group last year saying there was a 10-month transition period to assure the availability of school service for the upcoming school year.
Under the MC, operators of school service vehicles, upon filing their confirmation, will be required to submit an Affidavit of Undertaking to substitute their rickety units before the opening of school year (SY) 2016-2017.
The LTFRB also directed school authorities not to accredit or allow the operation of school transport service units that are more than 15 years old beginning SY 2016- 2017.
Some of the drivers said they don’t have funds to change their units.
The National Alliance of School Service Association of the Philippines (NASSAP) has asked the LTFRB for another extension as they await the Euro 4-compliant machines they ordered from China.
They argued that school service vehicles should have a higher age limit since they cater only to students and are unlike public utility vehicles that ply a regular route for hours.
According to the group’s records, there are about 10,000 units of school service vehicles in Metro Manila, and 75 percent of this will be affected by the mandatory phase-out.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Police District (EPD) on Monday declared itself ready to coordinate with school authorities and local government units in ensuring a safe and peaceful school opening on June 13.
EPD director Chief Supt. Elmer Jamias said they are prepared to provide security coverage and public safety services to schools and universities located in the cities of Marikina, Pasig, Mandaluyong, and San Juan.
Jamias directed the chiefs of police to intensify the anti-criminality campaigns against criminal gangs and syndicates preying on students.
The EPD will also position police assistance desks near major school campuses.
Jamias said he will also designate dedicated personnel to address bullying inside and outside school premises.