Transport group PISTON said it is ready to support the planned transport strike led by various transport groups if the government will continue coercing small-time PUV operators to consolidate their individual franchises and ignore the growing demand for the suspension of the entire PUV Modernization Program.
In a press conference on Monday, Manibela and other transport groups announced a week-long transport strike beginning March 6.
“Pinakikita lamang nito na handang makipaglaban ang iba’t ibang samahan para pigilan ang sapilitang franchise consolidation at PUV phaseout na patuloy na itinutulak ng gobyerno. Handang protektahan ng mga tsuper at maliliit na operator ang kanilang kabuhayan dahil buhay ng pamilya nila ang nakasalalay rito lalo sa panahon ngayon ng matinding krisis sa ekonomiya (This only shows that various groups are ready to fight against the forced franchise consolidation and PUV phaseout that the government is continuously pushing. Drivers and small-time operators are willing to protect their livelihood because their family’s lives are at stake, especially during this time of severe economic crisis),” said PISTON national president Mody Floranda.
PISTON explained that mandating operators to consolidate their individual franchises under a cooperative or corporation is “wrong, deceitful, and coercive” as it deprives operators of their rights and privileges as individual franchise holders, and only big corporations with single consolidated franchises have the financial capacity to purchase and fully comply with the current PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) schemes.
“Kapag nag-consolidate ka ng prangkisa sa ilalim ng isang kooperatiba o korporasyon, isnusuko mo na yung karapatan mo sa indibidwal mong prangkisa. Sa oras na di ka makabayad sa napakamahal na halaga ng modernization, wala ka nang babalikan dahil pinilit kang isuko ang prangkisa mo. Ano’ng mangyayari sa consolidated franchise ng coop nyo? Ibi-bid ng LTFRB sa mga malalaking korporasyon na may kakayahang magbayad ng mga imported minibus na isinusubo ng gobyerno (When you consolidate your franchise under a cooperative or corporation, you surrender your rights to your individual franchise. If you fail to pay the exorbitant amount for modernization, you have nothing to turn back to because you were coerced to surrender your franchise. What will happen to your cooperative’s consolidated franchise? The LTFRB will bid it to large corporations that have the capability to pay for the imported minibusses that the government is pushing),” explained Floranda.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), following the announcement of the transport strike on Monday, said that the department is “giving enough ample time to transport groups to muster enough funds to buy new units” in order to comply with the government’s PUVMP.
PISTON pointed out that this statement by the DOTr is a clear admission that their imported “modern” minibusses are indeed unaffordable. According to the group, the practical and efficient thing to do, if we need affordable, cleaner, and more comfortable vehicles, is to have a just transition program by supporting our local manufacturing industry and allowing the rehabilitation and overhauling of traditional jeepneys to carry cleaner and environmentally sound engines.
They added that this will not only save small-time operators money, it can also further develop our local industries and create more domestic jobs.
“Bakit ba kating-kati ang gobyerno ni Marcos Jr na mag-import nang mag-import para palitan ang mga lokal nating jeepney at paglaruan ang buhay ng maralitang Pilipino? Sino ba talaga ang gusto nilang paunlarin? Malinaw na hindi ang mga Pilipino (Why is the Marcos Jr government so keen on replacing our local jeepneys with imported ones and play with poor Filipinos’ live? Who are they really trying to develop? Clearly not the Filipino people),” said Floranda.