PUVs in the Philippines

PISTON, Manibela launch transport strike as consolidation deadline nears

Lance Spencer Yu

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PISTON, Manibela launch transport strike as consolidation deadline nears

STRIKE. Jeepney drivers belonging to the group Manibela, protest in Mendiola during their nationwide transport strike on October 16, 2023.


The government downplays the expected effect of the transport strike, saying that Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines will not be paralyzed

MANILA, Philippines – Transportation groups PISTON and Manibela are holding another transportation strike on Monday, April 15, ahead of the fast-approaching April 30 deadline for individual jeepneys to consolidate.

The two groups, which have held multiple transport strikes against the issue since mid-2023, are participating in the “tigil-pasada” after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirmed last week that the April 30 jeepney consolidation deadline is final. Marcos made the announcement during a recent town hall meeting on traffic that both groups were notably not invited to.

Under the government’s public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program, jeepney operators must give up their individual franchises and join a cooperative or corporation by April 30 – or else they will no longer be able to ply their routes.

Over a 27-month period, operators are also expected to replace their old units with “modern jeepneys” that are compliant with the Philippine National Standard.

Some operators worry that upgrading their fleets will sink their cooperative or corporation in debt, with modern units costing an average of P2.48 million each. This concern has also been repeatedly raised by PISTON and Manibela.

Hindi ligtas kahit nagpaconsolidate: mababaon sa utang dahil sa sapilitang pagbili ng sasakyan, at dahil hindi makabayad ay makukuha ang prangkisa ng malalaking korporasyon,” PISTON said in a social media statement.

(You aren’t saved even after consolidation: you’ll only be buried in debt because of being forced to buy new vehicles, and your franchise will be taken by a big corporation because you won’t be able to pay for your loans.)

This could affect commuters too. Minimum jeepney fares could rise to P40 as operators struggle with the high monthly loan amortization for their new units, according to a research study done by the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies. (READ: Anti-poor? How gov’t defends PUV modernization, why jeepney stakeholders oppose it)

Government: Transport strike to have no effect

Meanwhile, government agencies downplayed the expected effect that Monday’s transport strike would have.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that the government has identified 13 “critical areas” in Metro Manila that could be impacted by the strike, but that it expects the effect to commuters to be minimal based on the previous protests held by the same groups.

CRITICAL AREAS. A map showing the 13 areas of concern identified by the government. Map from the MMDA.

Nevertheless, the MMDA said that it had “libreng sakay” vehicles ready to be deployed should it monitor commuters being stranded in areas.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has also stood by the April 30 deadline, with LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III saying that they “will no longer allow those who did not consolidate to ply the routes of Metro Manila” and that their franchises would be revoked.

As of April 1, more than 77% of PUV units have consolidated nationwide, although the consolidation rate in the National Capital Region based on PUV units remains to be just 52.54% – the lowest throughout the country.

NEARLY DONE? A table showing the PUV consolidation rate per region. Screenshot from the LTFRB.

“The LTFRB emphasizes that PUV consolidation must be completed by April 30, as mandated by President Bongbong Marcos, as it is integral to the modernization program,” the agency said in an April 11 statement.

Marcos has, however, previously caved into pressure from the same groups. Back in 2023, Marcos had said that the government would not extend its December 31 deadline for consolidation. This had meant that more than 1,900 unconsolidated jeepney and UV Express routes were at risk of being wiped out by February 1, 2024, which eventually persuaded the President to grant another extension until April 30. – Rappler.com

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.