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MANILA, Philippines – Jeepney and UV Express operators who have opted not to consolidate will only be allowed to ply their routes until April 30, according to a new memorandum circular by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“The authority to operate the units of all unconsolidated individual operators is extended until 30 April 2024, provided the unit is currently registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and has a valid Personal Passenger Accident Insurance Coverage,” read Memorandum Circular No. 2024-001, which was released on Wednesday, January 31.
“The said units are allowed to ply the route as PUV only within the same period,” the LTFRB added.
Unconsolidated individual operators may also still confirm their units with the LTFRB and register their vehicles with the LTO until April 30.
At the same time, the deadline for filing an application for consolidation was extended until April 30.
Operators looking to form new consolidated entities can still do so for routes with no consolidated entities as of December 31, 2023. They can also form a new cooperative or corporation if “the number of unconsolidated units in a particular route is at least 40% of the total number of authorized units,” according to the memo.
Unconsolidated individual operators may also join existing corporations and cooperatives.
The fear remains
However, this means that contrary to the call of protesting jeepney drivers and even some lawmakers, all public utility vehicle (PUV) operators must still either consolidate or face losing their right to operate.
Under the government’s PUV Modernization Program, jeepneys and UV Express units are required to either form or join a cooperative or corporation to continue operating.
These new guidelines follow President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s order to move the consolidation deadline to April 30, which he announced after caving in to pressure from transport groups, lawmakers, and the public.
But though the government granted one final extension, transportation officials have repeatedly said that the consolidation requirement remains non-negotiable. Because of this, protesting unconsolidated operators feel that all they’ve won is a few extra months before an inevitable “phaseout.”
“Nananatili ‘yung pangamba ng mga drayber at operator na mawawalan sila ng kabuhayan pagdating ng April 30 (Drivers and operators still fear that they’ll lose their livelihoods come April 30),” PISTON president Mody Floranda said in a House hearing on Wednesday as he called for a suspension of the modernization program to give way for a review.
There were also other issues related to the implementation of the program. MANIBELA chairperson Mar Valbuena alleged during the House hearing that at least 10 unconsolidated jeepneys were impounded by LTO enforcers. According to Valbuena, the LTO personnel deemed the vehicles “colorum,” mistakenly claiming that their provisional authorities had expired after the December 31, 2023 deadline to consolidate.
In light of the issues, some lawmakers – including Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, Rizal 3rd District Representative Jose Arturo Garcia Jr., and Kabataan Representative Raoul Manuel – have suggested scrapping the consolidation requirement, allowing individual operators to choose whether to consolidate or not.
With the uncertainty, some jeepney operators and drivers have already told Rappler that they would rather sell their jeepneys for junk than join a cooperative or corporation. – Rappler.com