150,000 PUVs expected to join 3-day protest

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO --- Amid the ongoing "tigil pasada" of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston), transport group Manibela announced on Tuesday afternoon that it will hold its nationwide three-day strike on November 22 to 23.

The group said this is in protest of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

Like Piston, Manibela is appealing to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to hear their pleas on the upcoming December 31 deadline for the consolidation of public utility jeepneys, which is a requirement for vehicle registration and the PUVMP.

The PUVMP aims to replace or "phase out" traditional jeepneys with modern, environment-friendly units.

Manibela President Mar Valbuena said that some 150,000 units of PUVs are expected to join the strike.

"This is in response to our complaints that the DOTr and LTFRB are not hearing," he said, adding that Manibela is still open to dialogue with the two agencies.

Last October 16, Manibela held a protest which called for the suspension of the PUVMP and the December 31 deadline for consolidation of PUVs where jeepney drivers and operators are required to join cooperatives or corporations.

Piston and other members of the so-called “Magnificent 7,” a federation of the country’s largest transport groups, skipped the supposed two-day strike.

Data from LTFRB shows that 129,568 PUJs, UV Express, mini-buses, and public utility buses have consolidated. This is about 65.03 percent of all authorized PUVs, while the remaining 34.97 percent consist of 69,665 individual franchise holders.

As to the PUVMP, the LTFRB said that 120,023 PUVs nationwide are yet to be modernized.

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