Public utility vehicles (PUVs) that will not meet the March 31 deadline for the filing of applications for consolidation of individual and existing franchises will not be forced to phase out, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said Tuesday.
During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services, LTFRB chief Martin Delgra said PUV operators who will not meet the deadline as part of the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) will still be given time to consolidate within the year.
"Yung consolidation as a deadline is set in March but it doesn't mean na titigil yung mga hindi nag-consolidate," he said.
("The consolidation as a deadline is set in March but it doesn't mean that those who will not consolidate will stop operations.")
"Tuloy-tuloy ang program consolidation including the appeal to consolidate," he added.
("The program consolidation is continuous as well as the appeal to consolidate.")
Delgra reported that despite the pandemic, a total of 2,589 PUV units have been modernized as of December 2020, which is an 82.2% increase compared to the figures recorded during the same time last year.
Meanwhile, a total of 81,092 units have been consolidated as of March 5, 2021, Delgra added.
Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate public services panel, welcomed the improvement in the number of PUV that has been modernized, but admitted that there is still so much work to be done.
“My takeaway from the whole presentation is that there’s a marked improvement of those who are willing to join, pero hindi natin maipagkakailang marami pa ring napag-iiwanan,” she said.
(My takeaway from the whole presentation is that there’s a marked improvement of those who are willing to join, but we cannot deny that there are some who are being left behind)
“In order to truly heal and recover as one, we need to lift unnecessary burdens caused by deadlines and requirements that could not possibly be met by hundreds of thousands of PUV operators,” she added.
Poe called for the panel hearing to hear the sides of the stakeholders in the transportation sector and the LTFRB on the PUVMP.
Among the key components of the said program are the Local Public Transport Route Planning (LPTRP) where local government units are mandated to prepare their own LPTRP to be implemented in their localities, route rationalization that aims to address operational inefficiencies and worsening of traffic conditions, fleet modernization, industry consolidation, and social support mechanisms.
Poe asked the stakeholders to submit their requests and concerns to her office and to the LTFRB so that they can be further studied. She also asked the agency to submit a step-by-step procedure in applying for a cooperative to ensure that it is compliant to the Anti-Red Tape Act.
The senator earlier stressed the need for "roadworthy" jeepneys to go back to the road to help the Philippine economy recover from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She had filed Senate Bill 867, or the proposed "Just and Humane PUV Modernization Act," which seeks to balance the need for a safer, more environmentally sound public transport with the rights of the individuals who earn a living from these vehicles.
Under the bill, jeepneys will be required to replace their engines to make them Euro 4-compliant.
The government will also be mandated under the bill to provide financial assistance not less than 10% of the price per unit. The interest rate on loan amortization should not exceed 4% diminishing annual interest considering the nature of the PUV, and that the loan amortization period is for at least 15 years.
At the same time, the bill provides drivers who can no longer drive their PUVs due to the modernization program financial assistance to allow them to venture into other jobs. —LDF, GMA News