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PUVs to protest program anew

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Manibela, Piston set caravan Tuesday to prod gov’t to stop plan

The transport group behind the Christmas season strike plans to stage a protest caravan on Tuesday, Jan. 16, to press its campaign to stop the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

The announcement of the protest caravan by Manibela came as its president appealed to President Marcos to nullify the revocation of franchises of some of their members, who missed the deadline to join a cooperative or a corporation as required by the PUVMP.

About 10,000 to 15,000 operators and drivers are expected to join the protest, Manibela leader Mar Valbuena said.

The group would start its protest action at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City, and hold a caravan to the Welcome Rotonda before going to Mendiola, Manila, which is near Malacañang.

Mody Floranda, president of PISTON, another major jeepney group, said they are joining Manibela’s caravan.

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He said the protest caravan would also go to the Supreme Court, where PISTON’s petition for a restraining order against the PUVMP is pending.

Valbuena said commuters and students would take part in the protest.

Earlier, Jesus Ferdinand Ortega, Office of Transportation Cooperatives chairperson, called on operators and drivers who failed to consolidate by the Jan. 31 deadline to stop plying their routes beginning Feb. 1 to avoid being arrested.

Ortega said these jeepneys would be tagged as “colorum” or illegal after their operators failed to meet the Dec. 31, 2023 consolidation deadline.

“Drivers who know that they can no longer operate because they no longer have franchises should not operate to not be apprehended,” he said in Filipino.

Ortega said Saturday that drivers and operators of unconsolidated PUV units would not ultimately lose their livelihoods as they can still join or be absorbed by other cooperatives or consolidated PUV entities.

Data from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) shows that only 21,655 of the 42,177 units in Metro Manila or 51 percent have met the consolidation deadline.

This means that by Feb. 1, half of the jeepneys in Metro Manila would be considered illegal.

Ortega also said there is no basis to increase the minimum fare of jeepneys to P50 due to the PUVMP.

In the last six years, the minimum fare only rose from P9 to P13 for traditional jeepneys, he said.

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