LTFRB 7 yet to apprehend drivers of unconsolidated PUVs weeks after deadline

AMPER CAMPAÑA
UNHAMPERED. In this photo taken on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, traditional public utility jeepneys can still be seen plying along the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit project route on N. Bacalso Ave. in Cebu City. / AMPER CAMPAÑA

THREE weeks after the deadline for the consolidation of all public utility vehicles (PUV) into transport cooperatives or corporations, the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 has yet to fully enforce the apprehension of unconsolidated units, pending “due process,” an official said on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Federation of Transport Cooperatives in Cebu, called it unfair that some traditional jeepney operators are still operating despite the April 30, 2024 deadline, while cooperative members complied with the consolidation mandate.

The region’s PUV Moder­nization Program (PUVMP) con­solidation rate already reached 90 percent as of Tuesday, LTFRB 7 said.

Reynaldo Elnar, Chief Transportation Development Officer of LTFRB 7, said the LTFRB central office issued a directive to regional offices to summon and issue Show Cause Order (SCO) to traditional jeepney operators with unconsolidated units.

Upon receipt of the SCO, operators must attend a scheduled hearing to explain why they have not consolidated, or else face the cancellation of their franchise, Elnar said.

“Di man nato ma-diretso og cancel ang franchise kay kinahanglan pa na og i-agi og due process. Though duna nay proclaim nga i-colorum na sila pero moagi pa na og notice and hearing. After that mo-isyu ta og order; thats the time nga declared na gyud na sila og colorum vehicle,” Elnar said during the Openline News Forum on Tuesday.

(We cannot cancel their franchise right away, because it still needs to go through due process. Although there is already a proclamation to declare them as unauthorized, it still needs to go through notice and hearing. After that, we will issue an order; that’s when they will be officially declared as unauthorized vehicles.)

SCO issuance

In Central Visayas, five operators had been issued with SCOs as of Monday, May 20. However, LTFRB 7 plans to issue more in the upcoming days against operators with unconsolidated units.

He said the region has the remaining 9.7 percent, or some 1,000 unconsolidated units that will be issued SCOs.

Elnar said instead of conducting roadside inspections and enforcement operations, the agency is reviewing its records of all registered Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJs), which reached 11,000 units, and comparing them to the final list of consolidated units as of April 30, 2024.

Challenges, deputization issues

Elnar said the challenges with issuing SCOs are due to some operators having incomplete addresses in their records or moving to new addresses without notifying the regional office.

“Our main control over the unconsolidated ones is that we don’t issue confirmations. The purpose of this is confirmation before registration. So, if they bring it to the LTO and it’s unregistered, the units can still be impounded, which is equivalent to being unauthorized vehicles,” Elnar said in Cebuano.

He said LTFRB 7 had enforcers conducting roadside inspections previously. However, an opinion from the Department of Justice (DOJ) stated that only the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has the authority to enforce any violations involving motor vehicles, whether registered as public or private.

He added that the DOJ opinion mentioned the possibility of the LTO deputizing enforcers from the LTFRB. However, the LTFRB central office advised against deputizing their enforcers to the LTO until the issue of authorization is settled.

‘Unfair’

In a separate interview, Ellen Maghanoy, president of the Federation of Transport Cooperatives in Cebu, said it is unfair for cooperative members who complied with the consolidation mandate that some PUJ operators continue to operate despite the April 30 deadline.

Maghanoy said she cannot blame the operators, as this will cut them off from their means of livelihood. However, she reiterated that the law must prevail.

She then urged the national government to fully enforce the consolidation process in favor of the transport cooperatives that have complied with the consolidation mandate. / EHP

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