Strikers face franchise cancellation

By: Gerome Dalipe

THE nationwide transport strike launched by some transport groups failed to paralyze work in both private and private offices.

This, as the Iloilo City Hall and the Iloilo Provincial Capitol, provided free shuttle services to commuters in going to their offices.

Likewise, Ceres Liner management refused to join the transport strike and allowed their drivers and personnel to continue to serve the riding public.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Western Visayas observed smooth traffic flows in the Aleosan Terminal in Pavia, the Tagbak Terminal in Jaro district, and the San Pedro Terminal in Molo district.

Richard Osmeña, LTFRB-6 director, said that they already recorded some jeepney operators who participated in yesterday’s transport strike.

These operators are at risk of losing their franchise to operate for joining in the strikes, said Osmeña.

Their Certificates of Public Conveniences (CPCs) may be removed based on a memorandum circular in 2014, which states that involvement in protests which would inconvenient the riding public would merit a revocation of the franchise.

The operators who participated in yesterday’s transport protest are those allied with the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) and the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO).

The transport groups are protesting against the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) rolled out recently by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

But why are some transport groups against the government’s modernization program?

The DOTr launched its modernization program in June 2018, which mandates the phaseout of PUVs aged 15 years or older.

The PUV Modernization Program is the flagship, non-infrastructure project of the Duterte administration.

It aims at providing a comfortable life for all Filipinos through a safe, reliable, convenient, affordable and environmentally-sustainable public transportation system in the country.

To promote safer and more environmentally-friendly transport systems, the government proponents are pushing to replace jeepneys with Euro 4-powered engines or electrically-powered engines with solar panels for roofs.

The proposed modern PUVs should also be outfitted with additional features such as speed limiters, a GPS navigation system, dashboard cameras, an automated fare collection system, Wi-Fi, and closed-circuit television cameras.

The program will also change the franchising system, updates on new routes, and training for drivers.

Authorities are eyeing to modernize not just the jeepneys, but also the buses and public utility vans across the country by 2020.

Transport groups decried the program as “anti-poor,” arguing that the new jeepney unit would cost them at least P1 million per unit.

They also lamented that only multi-million peso companies can afford to buy the new “fleet management system” that sets a minimum of 15 units per franchise.

In a statement, the LTFRB has reminded the operators and drivers that participating in the transport strike is a direct violation of the provisions stipulated in their franchise.

Those who will participate in the activity may face suspension or even cancellation and revocation of franchise.

The LTFRB earlier cancelled the franchise of more than 200 bus units of Jell &Transport and Corinthian Liner for participating in the citywide transport strike in November 2010.

Instead, the LTFRB is also inviting all transport groups, cooperatives, operators, and drivers from all modes of transportation to have a dialogue with the agency to discuss pressing issues and concerns on the implementation of the PUVMP without resorting to such disruptive actions.