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Solons oppose taxi phase-out policy

Militant lawmakers on Tuesday opposed the implementation of the government’s phase-out policy for 13-year-old taxi units that is expected to affect the livelihood of over 1,000 utility vehicle operators. This came after members of the Coalition of Operator and Drivers of UV Express ATBP (CODEX) complained that they could not renew the registration of their units after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) refused to issue certifications of franchise validity for units that have reached the 13-year age limit. Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño backed the position of operators in opposing the 13-year-phase-out policy. Since last year, Casiño said they have been complaining that there have been no public consultations that transpired between government and their group. “It is like the policy is being implemented without studying the current situation. Government should heed the call of the people,” Casiño said. CODEX president Rosalino Marable said “since they could not ply their routes without renewing their motor vehicle registration, they don’t have a choice but to stop operating.” Operators were advised to seek legal relief if they can convince the Office of the President to reverse the LTFRB policy or the court to issue a restraining order. Casiño said laws and policies should reflect and serve the needs and situation of the constituencies. Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the TRO is an urgent and immediate relief but government should devise a scheme to help the operators or drivers acquire units on an easy, installment plan. “This scheme should give the drivers a chance to continue operating while the law is being implemented,” Ilagan said. She even suggested that forming a cooperative can help. The government, through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) Leasing Corporation, is accepting application for loan to finance the refleeting in a bid to ease the problems of operators who are mostly former overseas workers, retired government, police and military personnel affected by the phase-out policy. LBP charges 27 percent interest for a five-year loan term compared to the 43 percent charged by other commercial banks. Some 20,000 units of utility vehicles and vans that are franchised as GT express vehicles nationwide or at least 34 percent will be affected by the said policy.
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