Piston Cebu skips transport strike for 2nd time, plans rally against PUVMP outside LTFRB 7

Piston Cebu skips transport strike for 2nd time, plans rally against PUVMP outside LTFRB 7
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A LOCAL transport group will not join its parent organization’s three-day nationwide transport strike starting on Monday, April 29, 2024, one day before the final consolidation deadline for traditional jeepneys, with its leader saying it would be futile to do so as several drivers have already joined cooperatives or corporations.

The Cebu chapter of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) will instead hold a rally outside the office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB 7) office in Barangay Lorega-San Miguel, Cebu City on Tuesday, April 30, its leader Gregory Perez told SunStar Cebu on Sunday.

This marks the second time Piston Cebu won’t participate in its parent organization’s transport strike. On April 15-16, Piston and Manibela held a two-day nationwide transport strike. Piston Cebu instead held a rally outside LTFRB 7 on April 15.

Piston’s national organization declared on Saturday, April 27, a nationwide transport holiday to protest against the final consolidation deadline. It will start Monday and end during the Labor Day celebration on Wednesday, May 1.

Consolidation rate

Meanwhile, an official at the LTFRB 7 has told SunStar Cebu that about 90 percent of traditional jeepney units in Central Visayas, which groups the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor, have undergone consolidation for the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

Reynaldo Elnar, LTFRB 7’s chief transportation development officer, mentioned that some operators who applied for consolidation own old units, while others opted out of consolidation due to a lack of interest in continuing their business in the public transport sector.

Last January, LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said that the consolidation rate in the region was at 80 percent.

The National Government believes that consolidating small operators into larger, more professional cooperatives or corporations will improve service quality and driver benefits.

Piston Cebu’s rally

Gregory Perez, the leader of the Piston Cebu, told SunStar Cebu on April 28 that their decision to just hold a rally outside the LTFRB 7 office is due to the fact that most traditional jeepney drivers here have already joined or formed transport cooperatives or corporations.

Piston deputy secretary-general Ruben Baylon said last Saturday that they must protest to protect their livelihood.

The National Government’s PUVMP mandates traditional jeepney units to either form or join a cooperative or corporation to continue operating. This requires them to give up their individual franchises. The minimum number of cooperative members is 10.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista announced last January that the consolidation deadline, extended for the eighth time since 2017, would be on April 30. The aim of extending the deadline by three months was to increase consolidation figures to 85 percent. Last January, only around 67 percent of PUVs, UV Express units, mini-buses, and public utility buses in the country had undergone consolidation.

Slow consolidation process

Perez said they will hold the rally on Monday afternoon, again highlighting the slow consolidation process at the LTFRB 7.

Earlier, Perez told SunStar Cebu that operators who applied for mandatory franchise consolidation since 2019 remain stuck in the application process under the LTFRB 7 system. This might indicate fault on the part of either the agency or the operators.

In a follow-up report, the LTFRB 7 and the 10-member Federation of Cebu Transport Cooperatives (FCTC) denied allegations made by the transport group that the franchise consolidation process has been slow or that they are responsible for the delays.

Elnar told SunStar Cebu on Sunday that there is indeed no transport strike set to happen in Cebu or any parts of the region in the coming days.

However, he added that if such a situation arises, they will reach out to major operators to deploy additional units on the streets. He did not disclose the number of units.

Aims of PUVMP

Modernizing the public transport sector in the Philippines is aimed at replacing old, dilapidated jeepneys and other PUVs that are 15 years old with modern, safer and more comfortable units that meet emission standards.

The other PUVMP’s aims include the transition to more environmentally sustainable transportation options with vehicles that have lower emissions and reduce pollution, and improve the safety of public transportation for both passengers and drivers while making commuting more comfortable.

It also seeks to restructure the public transportation system to be more efficient. This includes route planning, fleet management, and industry regulation. / KJF, KAL


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