Jeepneys are one of the primary modes of transportation and livelihood for thousands of Filipinos. Image courtesy of Inquirer.
Transport groups and operators will go on a week-long strike in Metro Manila, Region 3, CALABARZON, Region 5, and Cagayan de Oro starting March 6 to resist the government's Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).
The chairman of the transportation group Manibela, Mar Valbuena, revealed that 40,000 traditional jeepneys and UV Express drivers in Metro Manila will participate in the strike.
The jeepney modernization program seeks to modernize the public transportation system by phasing out non-compliant jeepneys, buses, and other vehicles that are at least 15 years of age.These vehicles will be replaced by safer, more comfortable, and environmentally friendly vehicles.
However, transport groups, including the Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP), oppose the government’s actions, claiming it bears no good in the daily survival of jeepney drivers and operators.
According to LTOP President Orlando Marquez, more than 5,000 passenger jeepneys that did not renew their franchise have been replaced by imported mini-buses rather than newer jeepneys. In a briefing, Marquez probes as to why modernization exists in a manner where the product of foreign countries is dominating, and we are killing our own industry.
“We are the only people in the world who use jeepneys for public transportation,” Marquez says.
The LTOP leader asserts the jeepney is a uniquely Filipino mode of transportation, and the government must preserve it as part of the country’s local culture.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Body (LTFRB) eases public fears of a vehicle shortage, making it clear that emergency measures would be implemented to prevent a transportation crisis.
Although 50,000 traditional jeepneys have yet to comply with the modernization program, the LTFRB reports that 96,000 jeepney operators and drivers have already been integrated into corporations or cooperatives. Almost left with no choice, transport groups appear to be keen on the fact that cooperative members must pay a monthly amortization amounting to nearly P500,000 for 10 to 15 modernized jeepneys, which cost up to P2.7 million each.
LTFRB also discloses that 72% or 19,000 UV Express units across the country have accomplished the modernization requirements.
The LTFRB has extended the validity of traditional jeepney franchises four times, with the June 30 deadline expected to be the final extension.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) also urges transportation groups to first engage in dialogue with the agency before staging a strike in protest of the department's policies and orders. This move, as per DOTr Sec. Jaime Bautista, targets to clarify uncertainties and fully investigate each other’s stances with regard to PUVMP.
With the impending transport strike, De La Salle University (DLSU) shifts their onsite class to online via The La Sallian Twitter post.
Colegio de San Juan de Letran is yet to announce if there will be a shift online, given that the Midterm Examination will take place during the transport strike.