DOTr: One demand of transport groups ‘non-negotiable’

CEBU. Members of Piston stage a protest in different areas in Metro Cebu on Wednesday, November 22, 2023.
CEBU. Members of Piston stage a protest in different areas in Metro Cebu on Wednesday, November 22, 2023. Earl Kim Padronia

TRANSPORTATION Secretary Jaime Bautista said Wednesday, November 22, 2023, that the government is willing to negotiate with transport groups that are currently staging a strike, but noted that one of their demands was non-negotiable.

In an interview with reporters, Bautista said among the demands of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) and Manibela, giving up the mandatory consolidation of drivers and operators is something they cannot do as it was among the keys to the success of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

“There were demands and sabi nga namin, we are ready to address all these but one very important issue that sabi namin non-negotiable ‘yung industry consolidation because we really need the players to consolidate to a cooperative or corporation,” he said.

Piston and Manibela were demanding for the deadline extension for the consolidation, which was set on December 31, waiving of penalty for provisional authority renewal, extension of franchise for up to five years instead of one and the relieving of some of the provisions of the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG).

The PUV modernization program was introduced during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte. It aims to replace the traditional jeepneys with high-quality and environment-friendly vehicles with bigger capacity, taking into consideration the safety of the passengers.

Under Memorandum Circular, individual operators of traditional jeepneys will no longer be allowed to continue their operations after December 31, 2023 unless they join a cooperative or corporation.

Drivers and PUV operators complained about the costs of the new unit, which is around P1.4 million to P3 million.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) earlier said it will increase the equity subsidy for PUV drivers from P160,000 to P260,000 to enable them to purchase modern jeepneys.

Piston started its three-day transport holiday on Monday, November 20, while Manibela started it on November 22 and it will last until Friday, November 24.

Bautista said the strike barely affected the public transportation in the Metro. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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