Panay transport group asks SC to scrap PUV modernization program

(F.A. Angelo photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The No to PUV Phaseout Coalition – Panay joined other transport groups in filing a petition asking the Supreme Court (SC) to block the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.

Elmer P. Forro, one of the members of the coalition, was among the petitioners alongside Piston chairman Mody Floranda, KOMYUT spokesperson Ma. Flora May Cerna, Bayan Muna Party-list Coordinator Gaylord Despuez, and Jason Fajilagutan.

A 56-page petition filed at the High Court on Wednesday afternoon, December 20, urged the SC to issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction to prevent the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) from implementing several issuances regarding jeepney modernization.

In the petition, the transport groups asked the High Court to declare as “null and void” all department orders and memorandum circulars of the DOTr and LTFRB related to the PUV consolidation.

The mandatory consolidation measure of the modernization program forces individual franchise-holders and operators of PUVs to surrender the franchises previously granted to them.

The program also requires operators and drivers to “consolidate” by forming or joining cooperatives or corporations.

The government requires operators to consolidate into cooperatives on or before December 31 as a requirement under the PUV modernization program, which would gradually phase out old jeepneys with modern units.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on December 12 this year declared that there would be no further extension of the deadline for consolidation of PUVs.

Following this, the LTFRB on December 14 approved a circular providing that only consolidated entities and individual operators who fail to meet the consolidation deadline will lose their individual franchise and the opportunity to ply routes.

The petition assailed the constitutional and statutory validity of the orders and memorandum circular, emphasizing that the measures ascribe grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the DOTr and LTFRB.

“No legislation was passed to support the so-called PUV ‘modernization’ program or its various facets including mandatory consolidation,” the petition read.

The petitioners argued that the issuances of the two agencies violate the constitutional right of the drivers and operators since joining a cooperative is voluntary under the Republic Act No. 9520 or the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008.

The petitioners emphasized that DOTr and LTFRB’s push for consolidation are only administrative orders and not a law which they said are beyond the authority of the said agencies.

“The petitions for certiorari and prohibition are appropriate remedies to raise constitutional issues and to review and/or prohibit or nullify the acts of legislative and executive officials,” the transport group added.

Data from the LTFRB Region 6 showed that as of December 19, a total of 2,509 PUJ units in the region have not yet been consolidated.

Bacolod City has the highest number of unconsolidated PUJs, with 1,439, followed by Iloilo City with 406, Negros Occidental with 244, and Iloilo province with 232 jeepneys.

Collectively in Antique, Capiz, Kalibo, and Guimaras, there are 188 that are yet to be consolidated.