LTFRB: Jeepney consolidation 'non-negotiable'
MANILA (UPDATE) — Transport group Manibela is mounting its own nationwide transport strike from Wednesday through Friday amid concerns about the government's jeepney modernization program.
Manibela President Mar Valbuena said they are going on strike again due to the lack of action of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Valbuena estimated that 150,000 to 200,000 drivers will join their strike, which also includes drivers of UV express and shuttles.
"Simula bukas ang Manibela at iba nating kasamahan ay kasama na na magtitigil pasada, nationwide," said Valbuena.
"Ina-announce natin ito, hindi lang dito sa [Metro Manila], sa buong Pilipinas nationwide. Ang Manibela ay magtitigil pasada bilang tugon sa ating hinaing na hindi po binibigyang pansin ng DOTr at LTFRB," Valbuena added.
Manibela is opposing the Dec. 31 deadline for jeepney operators to consolidate and form a corporation. It is also against jeepney modernization, arguing that modern jeeps are too expensive.
“Marami pong paraan para makapag-modernize. Puwede kaming magpa-rehab. Marami na po ang nagpa-rehab ng aming mga sasakyan, kailangan lang ng magagandang makina,” Valbuena said.
“Wala daw pong phaseout ng jeepney, pero hindi po malinaw kung ire-renew pa, kung ie-extend pa 'yung provisional authority ng mga hindi nag-consolidate… Paano mangyayari walang phaseout pero patuloy ang PUVMP," he said.
"Sakal na sakal po tayo, walang pupuntahan kungdi mangutang para mag-modernize ng napakabigat, napakamahal na di naman talaga kayang kitain," he added.
450 ROUTES AFFECTED
In Metro Manila, he said about 450 routes would be affected.
Manibela also criticized government officials who belittled Piston’s strike, saying they do not intend to give FIlipinos a hard time.
"Kahit sinong transport group ang minamaliit mo, buong transport sector ang minamaliit mo hindi lamang yung isang grupo. Sinasabi walang epekto. Hindi naman po yung epekto ang pinaguusapan dito. Ang pinag-uusapan natin dito 'yung kabuhayan ng nasa transport sector,” Valbuena said.
“Yung mga maaapektuhan po, pasensya na kayo. Laging pinagmamalaki sa atin ng gobyerno, may libreng sakay naman. Tignan po natin dahil pinagmamalaki nila na may libreng sakay, gobyerno po ang sisihin ng taumbayan hindi kami.”
Valbuena said those who already consolidated want to withdraw. Some of them, he claims, were forced.
He threatened that bigger transport strikes will happen next year if the problem is not resolved.
He called on the Marcos administration to help them.
“Maglabas lamang ng executive order ang ating Pangulo na sinasabing wala nang phaseout, magpapatuloy ang mga traditional jeepney, okay na po kami,” Valbuena said.
Manibela's move comes after another transport group, PISTON, pushed through with its 3-day transport strike which would end on Wednesday.
Valbuena said they have been in talks with PISTON about holding a transport strike the past two weeks.
PISTON aired their frustration over issues on the need for operators to consolidate and join a cooperative or corporation to participate under the transport modernization program.
Authorities earlier clarified that traditional jeepneys would still be allowed to ply the roads as long as they joined a cooperative or corporation.
Transport regulators also said the consolidation of operators into coops or corporations is not synonymous with phaseout, which would take place much later in the implementation of the 10-component modernization plan.
Apart from issues with consolidation, PISTON earlier argued that it would be less expensive to just upgrade their existing jeepneys to make them more fuel efficient and environment friendly instead of buying new units.
Some drivers and operators also argued that "modern jeepneys" are too expensive and will deprive single-unit operators of route franchises that will then go to big corporations and to transport cooperatives.
For its part, the LTFRB is optimistic that despite the threats of the two 3-day transport strikes in one week, they would find a common ground with the opposing transport groups.
LTFRB has initially reviewed the 4 demands that PISTON raised during the on-the-street discussion in a protest in Quezon City on Monday.
The agency’s spokesperson, Celine Pialago, said 3 out of the 4 demands were doable, but the other one is non-negotiable.
LTFRB is willing to waive the penalties for the confirmation fee, which was usually paid every year.
Validity of franchises are also extended to 5 years as long as it passes the roadworthiness test, instead of one. The omnibus franchising guidelines will also be revisited and revised.
However, scrapping the consolidation process is no longer open for negotiation. Jeepneys are mandated to consolidate into a cooperative, a step under the PUV Modernization program.
LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz said he is set to meet with PISTON on Tuesday afternoon.
“That’s non-negotiable. The word ‘scrap’ that’s non-negotiable. But as per LTFRB Chairman Guadiz, pwedeng i-simplify ang consolidation process at 'yun po ang approval," said Pialago.
"Sa dami po ng proseso, alin po ang gusto? Alin ang doable? Alin ang hindi kaya? At 'yun ang mapag-uusapan mamaya,” she said.
Pialago also clarified that as long as the jeepney units are part of a consolidation, or have filed a petition to consolidate and are considered roadworthy, they could still operate next year.
Pialago was also allaying fears of phaseout, which PISTON was lobbying against. Those who could not comply will have to wait for new guidelines or opt to undergo a social support program.
“As long as roadworthy ka at gusto mong i-calibrate at papasa po ang inyong mga jeepneys sa national standards… Makakabiyahe po kayo because of these conditions. Maghihintay tayo ng pinabagong guidelines ngayon o sasailalim na tayo sa social support program.”Pialago said.
PISTON STRIKE DID NOT PARALYZE TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said the transport strike held by PISTON did not paralyze the transportation system in Metro Manila.
“Peaceful naman ito at hindi naman naparalisa ang ating transport sector dahil marami tayong ipinalabas na PNP mobile patrol para umalalay sa ating mga kababayan na nahirapang sumakay,” PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo told reporters at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Tuesday.
Fajardo said about 400 individuals were monitored to have joined the protest actions held in different parts of Metro Manila.
“May mga lumahok na ibang sector, hindi lang sa tigil pasada, as seen sa previous protests. May mga progresibong grupo na lumalahok sa ganito,” she added.
Fajardo said the National Capital Region Police Office on Monday served some 800 commuters using its mobility assets.
“Ngayon po nakalabas pa rin ang nasa 100 na mobility patrol, lalo sa areas na sakayan ng ating mga kababayan at scarce ang mga sasakyan,” the PNP spokesperson said.
“Nakaready ang PNP,” Fajardo assured the public.
“Pakiusap natin gaya ng sa naunang nag-tigil pasada: Nirerespeto natin ang kanilang karapatan na magsagawa ng ganitong aktibidad pero sana respetuhin din nila ang karapatan ng mga tsuper na gustong magpasada.”
— with reports from Job Manahan, Bianca Dava, Victoria Tulad, and Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News