Pushback against ‘modernization’ to continue in transport sector

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TRANSPORT group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) emphasized that the ongoing political bickering between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte should not divert attention from the pressing issue of the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).

In a statement, Piston highlighted that it was Duterte who initially supported the PUVMP, while Marcos seemed to be turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the transport sector’s continuous protest strikes against the program.

“The public display of trash talking by these two former allies reveals their true priorities, which seem to be more focused on their political ambitions rather than the real problems faced by Filipinos,” Piston’s statement in Tagalog read.

According to Piston, “It is evident that both warring factions are more concerned about outdoing each other in terms of power, as they both represent the ruling classes in the country.” The transport group urged Filipinos not to be deceived by the tactics of the ruling class and those in government.

“Instead of promptly addressing the needs of Filipinos, especially the transportation sector, which still faces significant challenges despite the extension given to our jeepney franchises, it appears that the Marcoses and Dutertes are primarily interested in benefiting from kickbacks associated with the modernization program and other government schemes,” the statement added.

Piston emphasized that true unity lies in the Filipino people coming together for the nation’s national and democratic interests.

The original deadline for PUV consolidation under the PUVMP was scheduled for Wednesday, January 31, but has now been extended to April 30.

Opportunity in the new deadline

In light of the extended deadline, the Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) plans to capitalize on the opportunity to travel throughout the Philippines, particularly to areas where the consolidation rates for the PUVMP are low.

OTC Chairman Andy Ortega announced on Wednesday that they will personally engage with members of transport groups nationwide to ensure compliance with the PUVMP’s consolidation requirement.

Ortega stated that they will explain to PUV operators and drivers who have not yet consolidated or applied for consolidation the significance of joining a transport cooperative and the benefits that the transport sector can gain from it.

He emphasized that the consolidation of franchises under the PUVMP will bring numerous advantages for drivers, as those who participate will be entitled to government-mandated benefits from the Social Security System, Pag-IBIG Fund, and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., just like other employees.

On January 25, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. approved the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) recommendation to extend the deadline for PUV franchise consolidation until April 30, 2024.

Despite the political bickering between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, it is crucial to stay focused on the issue at hand—the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP). The transport group Piston rightly points out that the true intentions of these former allies seem to be driven by their political ambitions rather than the genuine concerns of the Filipino people. As the deadline for PUV consolidation under the PUVMP is extended, the Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) sees an opportunity to promote compliance and educate transport operators and drivers about the benefits of joining a transport cooperative. It is imperative that the transport sector unites for the country’s national and democratic interests, ensuring that the needs of Filipinos are prioritized over political agendas.

Source: The Manila Times

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