Transport group PISTON calls out the government for dwelling on the current schemes of the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) and jeepney phaseout, despite continuous clamor against it, by coming up with a new deadline for the consolidation of PUV franchises instead of halting the entire program altogether and coming up with better and more just modernization solutions.
On Tuesday, the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued Memorandum Circular 013-2023, putting the deadline for PUJs and UV Express franchise consolidation on June 30, 2023.
The current schemes of the PUVMP have been in effect since the implementation of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Department Order (DO) 2017-011 or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG). Under said DO, traditional public utility jeepney (TPUJ) operators are mandated to surrender their individual franchises for consolidation into a Fleet Management system. Under the Fleet Management, they are forced to eventually purchase 15 imported minibuses per designated route, costing P2.4 to P2.8 million per vehicle. For comparison, a traditional jeepney unit only cost around P200,000 – P600,000 per unit.
The group argues that the compulsory franchise consolidation is an entry point for the corporate capture of small-capacity public transport as only huge corporations have the financial capacity to purchase the required 15 minibuses to operate a single route without being buried in debt.
“Malinaw na palpak ang PUVMP kaya hanggang ngayon, marami pa ring operator ang tumatangging pumaloob dito at isuko ang kanilang mga prangkisa at kabuhayan dahil sa oras na isuko nila ang kanilang indibidwal na prangkisa, ‘pag di nila nakayanan ang bigat ng gastos ng modernization, wala na silang babalikang kabuhayan dahil wala na silang mga prangkisa, consolidated na,” said Mody Floranda, PISTON national president.
PISTON said any modernization program should be based on just transition. Currently, the country doesn’t have its own industry big enough to absorb the transport workers being displaced by the current schemes of the PUVMP. Latest labor force data from the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that most jobs being created in the country are informal and therefore, more precarious given the current socio-economic crisis and record-high inflation.
“Patuloy ang panawagan namin para sa modernisasyong nakabatay sa rehabilitation at refurbishment ng mga lumang jeepney para maging mas malinis at mas komportable at para makapagpaunlad ng sarili nating manufacturing industry at makalikha ng maraming trabaho sa milyon-milyong manggagawang walang pormal na trabaho, hindi yung sapilitang isinusupalpal sa mga maliliit na operator ang mga pagkamahal-mahal na imported minibus na itinatambak na nga dito sa bansa, wala pang direktang ambag sa ating ekonomiya,” said Floranda.