PUVs in the Philippines

Transport strike ends after groups meet with Palace officials

Lance Spencer Yu

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Transport strike ends after groups meet with Palace officials

TRANSPORT STRIKE END. Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena and PISTON president Mody Floranda pose with palace officials.

Presidential Communications Office's Facebookk Page

(2nd UPDATE) In light of concerns raised during the strike, the government announces a comprehensive review of its public utility vehicle modernization program

MANILA, Philipppines – After only its second day, transport groups Manibela and PISTON declared the end to its weeklong strike following a meeting in Malacañang late Tuesday, March 7.

Nagdesisyon ang aming grupo na ihinto ang transport strike, kasama ang PISTON, at magbalik pasada na simula bukas. Nais naming humingi ng paumanhin sa ating mga mananakay sa naisagawang transport strike ng aming grupo upang mabigyan ng boses ang aming mga hinain,” Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said, reading a prepared statement after the Malacañang meeting.

(Our group decided to end the transport strike, together with PISTON, and to return to the roads tomorrow. We wish to apologize to the commuting public for the transport strike that we conducted to voice out our concerns.)

Sa aming mga kasamahan, huwag po kayo mabahala. Sa ating pag-unlad at pagbabago, sisiguraduhing natin mananatili ang tinaguriang hari ng kalsada,” Valbuena added.

(To our fellow drivers, don’t worry. As our country progresses, we’ll make sure that the king of the road stays.)

Valbuena also said that Manibela was not opposed to the modernization program as a whole. Rather, he hoped that it would be done in a way that does not leave anyone behind.

The decision to end the transport strike came after Valbuena and PISTON national president Mody Floranda met with Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil and Office of the Executive Secretary Undersecretary Roy Cervantes on Tuesday, March 7.

In a statement, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) welcomed the end of the transport strike, which saw several organizations of jeepney drivers and operators protesting the government’s implementation of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program. 

On Wednesday, March 8, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. thanked transport groups for their decision to end their strike. The President then reiterated that his administration would review its public utility vehicle modernization program.

“We need to study this carefully to avoid causing unnecessary hardships to our transport workers. Of course, it is important that their vehicles are safe, and we will be gradual when we enter the era of electric vehicles,” Marcos said in Filipino during an interview with reporters on Wednesday.

Marcos also said the extended December deadline would provide “enough time” to undertake necessary efforts to fix government implementation of modernization efforts.

According to the PCO, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has also instructed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) to conduct an extensive review of the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, which outlines the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP). The LTFRB and DOTr are expected to use the extended consolidation deadline of December 31, 2023 to rework the guidelines.

Ito ay upang siguruhin na naisaalang-alang ang bawat aspeto ng implementasyon ng programa, kabilang ang pagdinig sa mga hinaing ng ating mga driver at operator,” the PCO said.

(This is to ensure that every aspect of the implementation program is studied, including the concerns raised by our drivers and operators.)

The President also directed the DOTr and LTFRB to hold further consultations with jeepney drivers, operators, and the commuting public to hear their concerns about the PUV modernization program.

Old but roadworthy jeepneys

PISTON national president Mody Floranda said the talks in Malacañang centered on tweaking consolidation guidelines and allowing traditional jeepneys to continue operating so long as they were compliant with roadworthiness standards.

He reiterated that PISTON was willing to support consolidation, given that individual operators could retain ownership of their franchises and jeepneys.

Malinaw ang ating declaration na tayo, sa bahagi po ng PISTON, bukas tayo sa kooperatiba kung ito ay ‘yung as-is na cooperative. Ibig sabihin niyan ay hindi siya monopolyado, at dapat ang nagmamayari ng prangkisa ay hindi ‘yung mga malalaking corporation, kung ‘di ‘yung individual na operator, gayundin ang ating mga jeepney. Dapat hindi siya hawak ng mga malalaking negosyante,” Floranda said in a press conference on Wednesday morning, March 8. 

(We’ve made it clear that PISTON is open to establishing cooperatives as long as they’re as-is cooperatives. That means that cooperatives will not become monopolies, and franchises should not become owned by large corporations, but should still remain with individual operators, along with their jeepneys. They should not be held by big businessmen.)

Floranda also reminded Palace officials about Marcos’ statement that old jeepneys should first be inspected for roadworthiness rather than be automatically phased out. (READ: Marcos: Jeepney modernization needs to be implemented ‘in a different way’)

Natalakay at sinundan din natin ‘yung inilabas nga na statement ni BBM [Bongbong Marcos]. Ang sabi doon, kahit 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years, basta’t ito ay compliant ay hindi dapat ito tinatanggal. Dapat ito ay pinapatili. Kaya kagabi ay idiniin natin ‘yan doon sa ating mga kaharap na kinatawan ng Malacañang kaya kasama ‘yan doon sa pag rerehibisa doon sa provision sa ilalim ng 2017-011,” he said.

(We also discussed the statement by BBM. He said that even if the jeepneys were 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years old, as long as they’re compliant, they won’t be removed. They should be allowed to stay. That’s why last night, we emphasized this to the Malacañang officials, so that will be part of the provisions to be revised under 2017-011.)

Meanwhile, LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III also welcomed the decision of Manibela and PISTON to end their strike.

“We have never wavered in asking our friends from MANIBELA and PISTON to sit down with us, to thresh out their concerns about the PUVMP and the modernization of the public transportation industry. We are glad they listened to our President,” Guadiz said in a statement on Wednesday, March 8.

The transport strike declared by transport groups was originally set on March 6 to March 12. On the first day of the strike, the government readied 1,680 vehicles to ferry stranded passengers and deployed around 18,000 police personnel to ensure peace and order. Only 5% joined the strike nationwide, based on the government’s on-the-ground monitoring.

‘Welga kami!’ Transport strike spotlights jeepney modernization issues

‘Welga kami!’ Transport strike spotlights jeepney modernization issues

with a report from Sofia Tomacruz/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.