February 23, 2024

The Dec. 31 deadline for the consolidation of public utility vehicles franchises stays, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said.

Adhering to the current timeline ensures that everyone can reap the benefits of the full operationalization of the modernized public transport system, Marcos posted on X following his meeting with transport officials.

“Today, we held a meeting with transport officials, and it was decided that the deadline for the consolidation of public utility vehicles operators will not be extended,” he said.

“We cannot let the minority cause further delays, affecting majority of our operators, banks, financial institutions, and the public at large,” he added.

Marcos noted that to date, around 70 percent of all operators have already committed to and consolidated under the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP).

He said the consolidation of PUVs would push through for the benefit of the country amid plans to modernize the public transport system.

Under the PUVMP, operators and drivers will be organized into cooperatives or corporations to ensure the efficiency of its operations with an upgraded fleet of low-carbon emission, safe and efficient PUV units.

In November, transport groups Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide and Malayang Alyansa ng Bus Employees at Laborers para sa Karapatan sa Paggawa held separate transport strikes to protest the consolidation deadline and other aspects of the PUVMP.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board engaged the two transport groups in a dialogue that resulted in waiving penalties for PUV drivers and operators, extending the validity of a franchise to five years, and changing or removing some provisions in the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines under the PUVMP.

The LTFRB and the Department of Transportation, however, are adamant on the consolidation deadline as it is non-negotiable. Piston posted on Facebook that it will lead another transport strike on Dec. 14 and 15 as it continued to call for the scrapping of the Dec. 31 deadline and the complete removal of the mandatory franchise consolidation and the entire PUVMP. – PNA