TRANSPORT JUSTICE. Representatives of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, PISTON, Sanlakas, Oriang, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Move as One, and the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino stand to dramatize their demands to scrap the PUV Modernization Program in a press conference Friday in Quezon City. Manny Palmero



Transport groups PISTON and Manibela on Friday announced they would give the public “12 days of strikes” for Christmas, with plans to launch another transport holiday from Dec. 18 to 29 to protest the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP)

The announcement comes on the second day of a two-day transport strike by PISTON, and with traffic in Metro Manila and nearby areas expected to worsen amid the Christmas holiday rush.

“Today is just the start of the transport strike. Next week, PISTON and MANIBELA will continue to hold transport strikes, one week until Christmas or until the end of the year,” the groups said on X (formerly Twitter).

At a press conference Friday, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuperat Operator Nationwide (PISTON) on Friday threatened to stage bigger transport strikes to welcome the new year.

Mody Floranda, PISTON president, said the PUVMP is a big business plan and a disservice to the people.

“Why acquire modern units being manufactured abroad when we have these local manufacturers, such as Sarao Motors?” he asked.

The program is “a way of killing the rights of the lowly drivers,” he said.

“The PUVMP is an unjust transition,” Philippine Movement for Climate Justice senior energy officer Larry Pascua said.

“These modern jeepneys are costly but they still depend on dirty and deadly fossil fuels. If we can run electrified public utility vehicles and make them affordable to both drivers and commuters, then we can call it a successful modernization,” he said.

Floranda also said, “Where will the drivers of the traditional jeepneys go under the program?”

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), meanwhile, condemned the harassment allegedly being done by striking transport groups on drivers of modern jeepneys.

Such incidents of harassment include puncturing tires using nails during several transport strikes held in the past weeks and during the two-day transport strike that ended Dec. 15.

“We are calling on those holding protests to refrain from harassing their fellow drivers to join the strike,” LTFRB chair Teofilo Guadiz III said in a statement, speaking in Filipino.

“Let them serve the commuters and earn a living for their families.”

In a news release, the LTFRB said nails were reportedly used topuncture the tires of six modern jeepneys of Taguig Transport Cooperative on the first day of the transport strike on Dec. 14 due to their failure to join the strike.

A similar incident was reported last Nov. 22 to a modern jeep of the San Dionisio Transport Service Cooperative.

Both incidents are under investigation.

The LTFRB has urged transport cooperatives to report similar incidents.

The agency also said it had agreed to loosen some restrictions on the PUVMP after a two-hour discussion between Guadiz and Floranda.

After the talks, the LTFRB agreed to reduce the consolidation requirements to an OR/CR and a petition.

It was also agreed that a cooperative will now have a minimum of 10 members and up to three cooperatives would be allowed to ply a single route.

Previous fines will also be waived.

Additionally, modernized jeeps will no longer be mandatory as long as rehabilitated traditional jeepneys under a cooperative pass road-worthiness inspections.

“They only need to create a cooperative, there’s no more jeepney phaseout. We’re not forcing them to buy the modernized jeepneys. They can still use the traditional jeepneys as long as they are roadworthy,” said spokesperson Celine Pialago.

But Floranda said the LTFRB should issue an executive order to formalize these concessions.

On the other hand, the LTFRB remained firm that they would revoke permits to operate for PUVs on Jan. 1, 2024 if their operators fail to consolidate.

Guadiz and board members Riza Marie Paches and Mercy Jane Paras-Leynes penned Memorandum Circular No. 2023-51, “Allowing Operations of Consolidated Transport Service Entities in All Routes with Filed Application for Consolidation on or before Dec.31, 2023.”

With the issuance of the circular, the LTFRB effectively revoked the permits or provisional authorities (PAs) issued to individual operators in all routes without consolidated Transport Service Entity (TSE), effective Jan. 1.