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MANILA, Philippines – Angeliza and Federico Tiozen from San Andres, Manila are among the unbending jeepney operators who stand pat in their decision not to consolidate their franchises, even after the government has extended the deadline to April 30.
Despite owning three jeepneys which were their bread and butter for two decades, the couple have decided to sell these units even at less than half their original price. They would use the money from the sale to invest in a new business – opening a stall in a wet market.
The couple, both 53 years old, would rather go into a different livelihood than consolidate their existing jeepney franchises into cooperatives.
They do not see the point in consolidating with a cooperative– which they said was like surrendering their livelihood because they will not be able to afford costly modern jeepney units as replacements. For them, by selling their current jeepneys they could at least get some money from it.
“‘Yang (units) ‘yung nakapagpagawa sa amin ng bahay, nakapagpatapos ng anak. […] kaysa ibigay namin, i-junk na lang namin, at least, may pang-puhunan kami,” said Frederico.
“Pang-puhunan sa panibagong negosyo kasi winalang’ya kami ng gobyerno, gusto kamkamin ‘yung pagmamay-ari namin. Mag-iiba na lang kami ng negosyo na hindi nila kami kayang saklawan o pakialaman.”
(Those units enabled us to build our own house and support our children’s education. Rather than giving it up, we’ll just junk it. At least, we have money for investment. We will invest in a new business because the government disrespected us. They want to steal what is ours. We’ll just change our livelihood to something that they can’t be within or interfere with.)
In a memorandum circular issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the previous deadline was set on December 31, with unconsolidated units earlier given until January 31, 2024 to ply selected routes.
Meanwhile, despite driving his jeepney for 40 years, MANIBELA Parañaque Vice President Eddie Carido is also considering selling his two jeepneys to junk shops rather than giving up his franchise to the consolidated cooperatives.
The 63-year-old who described himself as a former supporter of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was firm in his decision not to consolidate with a cooperative. Carido said he did not mind if the LTFRB would not reinstate the five-year franchises of his pair of units. It was ok with him as long as his franchises are not turned over to a cooperative.
“Basta amin ‘yung prangkisa hindi sa kanila. Kaysa ibigay ko sa kanila eh di huwag ko na [galawin] ibulok ko na lang ‘yan. Pero doon sa aking jeep, junk shop [ang] aabutin ng dalawa na ‘yan. Hindi ako papayag na i-surrender ko ‘yan,” said Carido.
(Just let us have our franchise, not them. Rather than giving it to them, I’ll just let these rot. But my two jeeps would end up in junk shops. I will not let them be surrendered.)
The LTFRB has already expressed willingness to issue new permits for other consolidated entities to take over the old routes of unconsolidated PUVs. This, however, will only happen if shortages in those routes are observed. (READ: House urges Marcos to extend PUV modernization deadline)
Carido though feels the looming wipe out of unconsolidated PUVs will not push through, believing that the Supreme Court will grant their call for immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the help of the Congress and Senate.
On January 12, Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) chairperson Jesus Ferdinand Ortega reminded operators who failed to enter the program that government assistance is available through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Meanwhile, Valenzuela City 2nd District Representative Eric Martinez told the House of Representatives last September that through DOLE’s Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), unconsolidated drivers can be trained and find alternative jobs after the deadline.
However, Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) national president Mody Floranda told Rappler that what the jeepney drivers and operators need is sustainability of their livelihood in the transport sector and not band-aid solutions.
“Hindi natin kailangan ng patchi-patching solution. Ang kailangan natin ay pananatili ng kabuhayan ng mga drayber. Kasi ang sinasabi nilang subsidy or ayuda, once in a blue moon. Paano ‘yung hinaharap? Paano nila mapapag-aral ‘yung kanilang mga anak? ‘Yun ‘yung isang hindi kayang sagutin ng gobyerno,” said the transport leader.
(We don’t need band-aid solutions; what we need is the sustained livelihood of our drivers. Because the subsidies or aids that they are implementing happen once in a blue moon. What about the future? How will they send their children to school? That’s a question the government can’t answer.)
Carido also finds applying at TESDA challenging due to numerous requirements needed before actually being trained. As a jeepney driver who is also a senior citizen, he believes that such a program is only for the youth and may not be applicable or qualified for elderly drivers like him.
Despite driving a jeepney for almost 36 years, 56-year-old Junie Luyong of Manibela Paranaque, who also refused to consolidate his unit, also hoped to find an alternative job once unconsolidated PUVs will be wiped out.
“Sana – kung may tatanggap. Sa edad kong ito, mayroon pa kayang tatanggap na mga kompanya? Wala na siguro,” said Luyong when asked about considering to work another job.
(I hope. If anyone will hire me. At my age, will there be companies willing to accept me? Probably none.)
In January 5, Ortega explained that his office already communicated with PUV cooperatives to accept drivers displaced by operators, denying job losses amid higher numbers of drivers without consolidated entities.
As of writing, about 140,000 drivers and operators face the risk of losing their source of livelihood when the government grounds unconsolidated PUVs, based on estimates of labor group Partido Manggagawa – Cebu that 70,000 jeepneys have not been consolidated. – Nathaniel Vizconde/Rappler.com
Nathaniel Vizconde is a Rappler volunteer studying at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. This article was done under the supervision of Rappler staff and his copy was vetted by editors.