Phaseout threatens 2,500 jeeps in Western Visayas

More than 2,000 public utility jeepneys in Western Visayas will not be allowed to ply the streets under the modernization program. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Around 2,500 traditional jeepneys in Western Visayas will be phased out of the roads amid failure to consolidate in a cooperative of cooperation under the government’s public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).

“Based on our figures, it will be no less than 2,500,” Atty. Salvador “Jun” Altura, officer-in-charge of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Region 6 (LTFRB-6) told Daily Guardian on Wednesday.

His statement comes after the “final” deadline for consolidation to a cooperative or corporation of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) lapsed on April 30.

Altura mentioned that they are still finalizing the data for unconsolidated jeepneys, as they extended the operating hours on the consolidation deadline date to accommodate drivers and operators catching up with the PUVMP  requirement.

While admitting that they do not have exact numbers yet, as last-minute applications are still undergoing “post-finding” procedures, Altura’s estimated data provided to the Daily Guardian was based on the December 31, 2023, data of consolidated PUJs in the region.

“We only received a small volume of applications on the last day. We have to note that in Iloilo City, consolidations have already closed since December last year,” he said.

The LTFRB initially set a December 2023 deadline but was extended to January 31, 2024. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. eventually announced a “final deadline” on April 30, 2024.

According to LTFRB’s data, the region has a total of 8,534 PUJs, with 5,778 having already joined a cooperative or corporation to continue operating as of December 2023, as required by the PUV modernization program.

This figure reflects a consolidation rate of 68 percent for the region, with the province of Iloilo reaching a consolidation rate of 97 percent, followed by Guimaras at 94 percent, Antique at 93 percent, Aklan at 89 percent, Capiz at 82 percent, and Iloilo City with 75 percent.

It is noteworthy that Negros Occidental and Bacolod City recorded the lowest consolidation rates at 54 and 24 percent, respectively, which Altura described as a ‘problematic’ status.

“We are still yet to ascertain the exact numbers in Bacolod City […] Only a few jeepneys in other provinces were not able to meet the deadline,” Altura said.

‘15-DAY LEEWAY’

LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III said in a DZBB radio interview on Monday, April 29, that the agency will give unconsolidated PUJs a 15-day leeway to still ply their routes before the authorities start impounding their vehicles.

“Initially, during the first 15 days, we will just warn the people, give them reminders. It won’t be immediate,” he said.

Guadiz’s statement coincides with the “final” deadline for jeepney consolidation reaching April 30.

The LTFRB has yet to release a memorandum circular stating exactly what will happen to unconsolidated jeepneys starting Wednesday, May 1, and whether or not they will be considered “colorum.”

However, Guadiz has previously stated that those who fail to consolidate will have their franchises revoked.

Altura said he is also yet to receive a copy of the memorandum.

Elmer Forro, lead convenor of the No to PUV Phaseout Coalition – Panay, said the 15-day leeway for unconsolidated jeepneys is just a “palliative” move of the government.

“We see this as a palliative measure to address the concerns of affected drivers and operators because they do not want the public outrage over the phaseout of our traditional jeepneys. They want to gradually alleviate the bigger problem brought by the PUVMP,” he said.

The LTFRB-6 has previously assured that there will be enough public transportation to cater to the influx of passengers on the major thoroughfares of the region.

Transport groups staged a protest camp in front of the LTFRB-6 office on Tuesday.

Subsequently, they met with Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda to lobby their concerns regarding the modernization program and to push for the removal of the consolidation requirement.

Forro has said that Baronda has committed to forwarding their concerns in the remaining congressional hearings.

In the January House Committee on Transportation hearing, lawmakers urged the Department of Transportation to reconsider the “unconstitutional” requirement of franchise consolidation.

Several lawmakers highlighted that the mandatory consolidation violates the rights of jeepney drivers and operators to due process and to freely associate.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here