The hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation on the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) on Wednesday, attended by PISTON and Tanggol Pasada Network, has once again exposed the failures of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the PUVMP.
It tackled the recently issued LTFRB Memorandum Circular (MC) 2024-001 which formally extends the deadline for franchise consolidation by three months.
One of the key provisions of said MC is the option for operators to withdraw or opt-out of their cooperatives or corporations, which PISTON had lobbied for before. However, the LTFRB clarified that even with this provision, they will still prohibit individual franchises from being withdrawn or detached from the consolidated franchises under their respective coops or corporations. This confirms the confiscatory nature of the franchise consolidation scheme, that the real intent of the PUVMP is to seize the individual franchises of small operators for corporate capture.
The hearing also exposed the LTFRB’s repressive and corrupt attacks against jeepney drivers and operators who joined the recent strikes. The LTFRB Region IV-A sent show-cause orders to 29 operators from Batangas and Laguna, threatening to cancel their franchises for participating in the strikes.
The LTFRB’s use of police power to cancel franchises violates the Constitution. It also violates the transport workers’ right to freedom of association, which includes the right to strike.
We welcome the committee’s official recommendation to formally suspend the implementation of the franchise consolidation scheme and we urge the lawmakers to continue amplifying the demands of transport workers and commuters against the oppressive PUVMP and to start pursuing a progressive public transport system that promotes a pro-people, worker-led just transition that upholds informal public transport workers’ rights and ensures a genuinely sustainable public transport that leaves no worker behind.