The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has recently issued a memorandum circular that effectively revokes the permit to operate of public utility vehicles (PUVs) that have failed to file applications for consolidation by the deadline of December 31, 2023.
This consolidation deadline has sparked protests from transport groups who argue that mandatory franchise consolidation would lead to the phase-out of traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs), thereby depriving drivers and operators of their livelihoods.
Memorandum Circular 2023-051, approved and signed by the LTFRB on Thursday, December 14, states that all provisional authorities issued to individual operators of traditional jeepneys in all routes without consolidated transport service entities (TSEs) will be deemed revoked effective January 1, 2024. Additionally, operators will not be allowed to register these units as public utility vehicles (PUVs).
The LTFRB stated, “Accordingly, a show cause order shall be issued by the Board.”
However, all consolidated TSEs and individual operators who were able to file their application for consolidation on or before the deadline will be allowed to continue operating under their existing provisional authority, which shall be valid until December 31, 2024.
Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) President, Mody Floranda, warns that an estimated 900,000 drivers and operators will face dire consequences if they fail to renew their franchise and cannot consolidate with the LTFRB until December 31.
Floranda has also issued a warning that they will stage another transport strike if their request for an extension is not granted. He emphasizes that such a strike would have a significant impact on the economy and urges the government to carefully consider their concerns.
Earlier this week, Piston led a two-day transport strike, demanding an extension of the December 31 deadline for franchise consolidation.
In response to the strike, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced that the government would not extend the year-end deadline for PUJ drivers to consolidate themselves into cooperatives or corporations. President Marcos noted that currently, “70 percent of all operators have already committed to and consolidated under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).”
Transport group Piston has received support from the National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT Union-UK), a union of transportation workers in the United Kingdom. The RMT Union-UK expressed solidarity with Piston, stating that the Philippine government’s plan to phase out jeepneys would extinguish the livelihoods of tens of thousands of jeepney drivers who have provided a cheap and reliable public transport system throughout the country for decades.
The RMT Union-UK further criticized the new conditions set for becoming an operator, stating that the high costs involved would put public transport into the hands of wealthy private corporations while jeepney drivers would be thrown into poverty and unemployment. The union also highlighted the government’s threat to make strikes illegal when transport workers take legitimate action to defend their jobs and livelihoods.
The British union called on the government to withdraw the December 31 deadline, negotiate a new plan with Piston, provide solutions that will help save the livelihoods of drivers, and maintain an affordable public transport system.
It remains to be seen how the LTFRB and the government will respond to the concerns raised by transport groups and the international support they have received. The fate of traditional public utility jeepneys and the livelihoods of drivers and operators hang in the balance as discussions and negotiations continue.
Source: The Manila Times