CITY OF SAN FERNANDO--- The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) is eyeing a three-day strike on November 20 to 22, 2023.
This group is opposing the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board's (LTFRB) requirement of consolidation for registration of public utility vehicles (PUVs) next year.
The LTFRB announced on Wednesday that operators of public utility jeeps (PUJ), UV Express, mini-buses, and public utility buses must consolidate by December 31, 2023 as it will be a requirement for vehicle registration come 2024.
Piston national president Mody Floranda said the protest’s goal is to abolish the consolidation requirement of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) as well as other recently proposed amendments to the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines.
He added that the proposed amendments and "changes" did not meet the demand of the transport group to abolish the franchise consolidation component of the PUVMP and to suspend the entire program.
Under the consolidation process, being a member of an existing transport cooperative or applying for consolidation will be a requirement for registration with the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
The confirmation will come from the LTFRB and that confirmation and become the basis of their registration with the LTO.
Piston expressed fears that the consolidation scheme may lead to the "monopoly" of routes by bigger fleets and transport operators.
The Department of Transportation said it is firm on the December 31 deadline as part of the government's PUVMP.
Last October 16, transport group Manibela also 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.
The PUVMP aims to replace or "phase out" traditional jeepneys with modern, environment-friendly units.
Data from LTFRB shows that to date, 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.