MANILA, Philippines – Four days before the scheduled transport strike on Monday, September 30, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said participating operators would be held accountable for going against the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.
The statement that his office sent to the media on Thursday, September 26, read like a threat since it also announced that the department, through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), had canceled the certificates of public convenience (CPCs) of 20 PUV operators and drivers after they participated in a transport strike in 2017.
LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III cited LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2011-004 as a basis for canceling the CPCs.
The circular prohibits PUV operators from halting services as a means of protest against government actions. Otherwise, their authority to operate could be suspended or canceled.
“Ang prangkisa, pribilehiyo 'yan at hindi karapatan. Nakasaad sa pribilehiyong 'yan ang responsibilidad ng operator na bigyan ng komportableng biyahe ang kanyang pasahero. Kung magtitigil pasada sila, sinong kawawa? Pasahero. Sana maisip nila ‘yon,” Tugade said in the statement.
(A franchise is a privilege, not a right. This privilege stipulates that it is the operator's responsibility to provide passengers with comfortable transportation. If they stop their operations, who will suffer? The passengers. I hope they think of that.)
The upcoming strike is being organized by the groups Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO) against PUV modernization.
In 2017, Tugade had also targeted those who participated in a transport strike, calling jeepney drivers on strike "selfish and small-minded." Piston also led the strike then, and Tugade said the group should be charged with economic sabotage.
The Department of Transportation had questioned Piston's motives in the past, saying that the group disengaged with the government and refused to hold a dialogue with them after the PUV modernization program had taken shape.
The LTFRB relaunched the modernization program in July, saying that jeepney drivers were already given enough time to comply with the program. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.