Drivers ask City Council to stop increase of fines

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


JEEPNEY and taxi drivers and operators sought the intervention of the Cebu City Council in the imposition of higher penalties for traffic violations.

Appearing before the council yesterday, public utility vehicle drivers asked that a resolution be passed asking the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Department of Transportation and Communications to stop implementing Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01.

Officials of drivers’ groups were scheduled to meet with Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district) and Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya yesterday, but their flight was canceled because of typhoon Glenda.

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Greg Perez, coordinator of Pagkakaisa ng mga Samhan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston)-Cebu, said the increased penalties will be an additional financial burden to them.

Every day, Perez said jeepney drivers earn P2,220 to P2,260 but they spend at least P1,100 to P1,300 for fuel and P700 to P900 for rent on the vehicle.

“Wala’y maadto sa driver ug sa iyang pamilya. Kung madakpan, P1,000 ngadto sa P15,000 ang multa. Unsay tan-aw nila sa mga driver? Milyonaryo o financier? (Drivers earn very little. If we’re caught for a violation, we’d be made to pay a fine of P1,000 to P15,000. What do they think of us, millionaires?)” he asked.

He said higher fines will prevent drivers from sending their children to school, pay the monthly amortization for their homes, and meet their daily needs such as food.

He said the government should not punish them with higher fines because they are serving the public by ferrying them from their homes to school or to work every day.

Aside from that, he said that drivers pay taxes to the government, more so when they purchase fuel and provide discounts to senior citizens and students.

“Pero unsa ang gibalik sa gobyerno? Taas ug doble-dobleng multahan (In return, government doubles the fines),” he said.

Provisions

The Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Association supported Piston-Cebu’s appeal.

Richard Cabucos, president of the group, said some provisions of JAO are “unreasonable” and affects their livelihood.

These include the imposition fines ranging from P5,000 to P15,000 for refusal of a taxi to ferry the passenger to their destination. The same fines apply for overcharging, arrogant drivers, and failure to provide discounts to the elderly.

Cabucos said taxi operators bear the brunt of the penalties, even though the drivers are the ones who commit the violations.

Rudy Laconsa of the Alliance of Transport Organization Members Intra Cebu said JAO 2014-01 was passed without consultation.

Court

Councilor Nestor Archival suggested that the drivers file a case in court and seek relief from the implementation of the order.

He said that JAO imposes higher penalties compared to the LTO Department Order 2008-39, which has been declared by the Regional Trial Court in Baguio “unlawful.” “If that was considered unlawful, how much more the JAO that imposes much higher fines?” he asked.

Perez said Piston asked for a temporary restraining order against the JAO before the Office of the Solicitor General.

In yesterday's public hearing however, a concerned commuter expressed support for the JAO and higher fines for traffic violations.

Melgredo Castillon of Barangay Lahug said the JAO is the “best medicine” for “abusive” drivers and operators.

Violations

He said there are drivers who don't respect pedestrian lanes, cut trips and overload their vehicles. Some refuse to accommodate senior citizens or persons-with-disabilities.

The JAO was implemented starting June 19.

Benjamin Ryan Yu, chairman of the Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative (Citrasco), Romeo Armamento of the National Confederation of Transportworkers Union (NCTU) and del Mar wanted to discuss JAO 2014-01 with Abaya.

Yu said del Mar is trying to arrange another date for the meeting. Drivers want the JAO amended.

Citrasco is seeking an amendment to JAO 2014-01, instead of a repeal.

Yu said the meeting would have determined whether Citrasco would file a case and if NCTU would push through with the strike on Monday.

Meanwhile, LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon said that he received reports that some Talamban, Cebu jeepneys did not operate yesterday but no commuters were stranded because Ceres buses augmented transport services in the area.

Yu said, though, that the operation of passenger jeepneys remained normal in all routes in Metro Cebu yesterday.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 17, 2014.

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