Transport group PISTON urges the national government to take advantage of their Holy Week break for introspection and further reflection as moving the deadline for the mandatory franchise consolidation component of the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) to December 31 is not a real solution to transport workers’ woes.
On March 29, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) released Memorandum Circular no. 2023-017 formally extending the deadline for the mandatory franchise consolidation of PUVs to December 31, 2023. This came as a result of the successful two-day transport strike in March against the current PUVMP.
PISTON remains steadfast in its demand to junk the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Department Order 2017-011 or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG), especially its mandatory franchise consolidation component. They emphasized that the government’s insistence on enforcing franchise consolidation will result in the mass disenfranchisement of thousands of small operators and drivers.
According to PISTON National President Mody Floranda, “Nananatili ang ating posisyon at panawagan na agarang pagbabasura sa OFG, lalo na yung probisyon ng sapilitang franchise consolidation, dahil ito yung puno’t dulo ng ating mga problema sa PUV Modernization Program. Baka magandang magamit ng DOTr at LTFRB ang Semana Santa para lalo pang magnilay-nilay sa pamamalakad nila sapagka’t malinaw na ang pagpupumilit nila sa franchise consolidation ay walang mabuting dulot sa mamamayan kundi puro kalbaryo, pasakit, at pagpapahirap lalo na sa mga tsuper at maliliit na operator na aagawan ng kabuhayan ng malalaking kumpanya ‘pag nagpatuloy ang sapilitang franchise consolidation sa ilalim ng OFG.”
PISTON also said they have yet to receive a formal invitation and instructions from the authorities regarding the actual review process of the OFG, which was promised by Malacañang in a private meeting with PISTON and Manibela in an agreement to end the transport strike on March 7.
Despite the government’s lack of urgency in pursuing the review process, PISTON, in collaboration with commuters group PARA – Advocates for Inclusive Transport (PARA-AIT) and the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS) under its Alternative Development Program, recently published a policy brief discussing the effects of the current PUVMP and recommending ways towards a Just Transition approach to achieve a sustainable public mass transport.
“May utang pa tayong limang araw dahil dalawang araw lang yung nailunsad nating strike mula sa anunsyong isang linggong tigil-pasada. Hindi tayo magdadalawang-isip na ituloy ito sa oras na hindi tumupad ang gobyerno sa pangako nito at kung hindi tuluyang ibabasura ang OFG,” added Floranda.