THE Solidarity of Transport Alliance in Northern Mindanao-Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Starex-Piston) slammed the government's "Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok" campaign, calling it a covert attempt to phase-out jeepneys.
Ringo Lago, Starex-Piston Northern Mindanao region secretary-general, said the government’s "modernization strategy" is now being implemented in the region targeting particularly Bayabas liners and Gusa-Cugman liners, among others.
The "Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok" campaign makes use of the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) which tests a public utility vehicle's road worthiness. If authorities find a public vehicle not safe, they will impose a P5,000 fine on the jeepney operator.
In Gingoog and Valencia cities, Lago said "erring" multicab and other public utility vehicles (PUVs) have begun receiving traffic citation tickets.
"Asa man mokuhag pambayad nga P5,000 ang kabus nga drivers nga bisan gani ang regular nga abang sa jeep maglisud siya? Asa man magkuhag pantapal ang gagmayng operators sa P5,000 nga gisagubang man niya ang kamahal sa spare parts ug galastuhon sa maintenance (Where will the drivers get this amount when he can barely afford the rent of the jeepneys? Where will the operators get the P5,000 when he also spends amount for the maintenance of these jeepneys?" Lago asked.
Lago said the program is a scheme to force operators to buy the expensive "modern jeepneys" that the government is pushing.
For his part, Land Transportation Office-Northern Mindanao regional director Oscar Salcedo said the program is not new as they have been doing this even before it was formally launched.
Salcedo said the road-worthiness inspection of public utility vehicles are being conducted to ensure that the PUVs are up to standards.
"We inspect if the wheels are still okay, if the smoke they emit are within the tolerable level, check all the jeepney parts to see if they are still safe for public use. If they violate, they will of course be fined," Salcedo said.
"What we are doing is only for the safety of the passengers and also to protect the owners," he said.
Salcedo said automotive engineers will be spearheading the roadside inspections.
But Salcedo said he respects the transport groups' opinion on the program, saying they are welcome in his office for discussions on the issue.
"I am willing to meet and talk them, they are even welcome to hold a rally in our office," he said.