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MANILA, Philippines – The deadline for traditional jeepneys to consolidate has been extended by six months, or to December 31.
Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III announced this on Wednesday, March 1, citing earlier statements made by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista.
“Alinsunod po sa advice ng ating Kalihim Jaime Bautista at alinsunod ng pahayag ng ating Pangulong Bongbong Marcos, in-extend po namin ‘yung consolidation po ng mga modern jeepneys from June 30 to the end of December 2023. Ito po ay bilang pagtugon sa kalihingan po ng transport sector,” Guadiz said.
(Following the advice of Secretary Jaime Bautista and following the statement of President Bongbong Marcos, we are extending the consolidation of modern jeepneys from June 30 to the end of December 2023. This is in response to the request of the transport sector.)
The original June 30 deadline drew threats of transport strikes from jeepney drivers and operators, who said there was lack of government preparations for the implementation of the plan.
Guadiz said, however, that the decision was not prompted by the weeklong transportation strike, even as transport groups said that the move could affect tens of thousands of commuters.
“To be honest, there is no pressure for us from the strike because more than 90% of the transport groups have signified their support to the program of the LTFRB,” Guadiz said.
Guadiz said the decision was due to Marcos, Bautista, and senators who sought a deferment of the implementation of the jeepney phaseout.
The LTFRB will prepare a new memorandum circular with guidelines on the consolidation and modernization program. Guadiz said that they are studying whether jeepney operators could maintain their franchises even without consolidating into a cooperative or cooperation.
Earlier on Wednesday, Marcos expressed a willingness to adjust the June 30 deadline for PUVs to consolidate or lose their franchise. He had also said that the modernization program of the government should be implemented in a “different way.”
On Tuesday, February 28, senators passed a resolution to “strongly urge the LTFRB to postpone the planned phase out of all traditional jeepneys by June 30, 2023,” citing the possibility of 50,000 jeepneys being phased out by the LTFRB memorandum circular.
On Saturday, April 1, the LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular 2023-017, which made the extension until December 31 official.
“We issued the new circular because we understood the wisdom of the President and the DOTr (Department of Transportation) Secretary in calling for further review of the [jeepney modernization program] and make it even more dynamic, flexible and responsive to the needs of operators and drivers and ultimately the riding public, who will benefit from a convenient, accessible, safe and secure, and affordable public transportation system,” said Guadiz.
Prior to the announcement, transport groups said that they would not be deterred from conducting the transport strike next week, from March 6 to March 12.
Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said on Tuesday that before any dialogue, the LTFRB should first suspend the memorandum circular that limits the provisional authority of individual traditional jeepneys to June 30.
Bautista earlier said that while the government was “very flexible” in terms of extending the LTFRB deadline, the modernization program will not be scrapped.
“Pagbasura ng modernization program natin ay siguro ay hindi naman tama. Kailangan i-modernize natin ‘yung ating PUV as a means na convenient, accessible, safe and secure and affordable,” Bautista told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine Maritime Summit on Tuesday.
(I don’t think scrapping the modernization program is right. We still need to modernize our PUV as a means to make them convenient, accessible, safe, secure, and affordable.) – with a report from Michelle Abad/Rappler.com