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DOTr renews call for dialogue with transport groups amid strike

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista on Tuesday renewed his call for transport groups to hold a dialogue with the agency amid their ongoing strike against the government's Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

“Nakikiusap kami dito sa mga gustong sumali sa strike na makipag-usap sa amin. Open naman yung office namin. Baka hindi lang nila naintindihan ang mga issues. Mas mabuti mapag-usapan,” he said at a televised public briefing.

(We are appealing to those who would like to join the strike to have a dialogue with us. Our office is open. Probably, they did not understand some issues. Better if these are discussed.)

Bautista also noted that the DOTr is not planning to phase out jeepney units by December 2023, but that the deadline is for drivers and operators to be consolidated to have access to the government’s assistance for modernization.

Bautista also said that PUV modernization will help drivers and operators earn more. 

"Magiging efficient 'yung operations nila. Instead na boundary system nangyayari mga driver magkakaroon ng fixed income, meron silang deduction for SSS, magkakaroon sila ng mga benepisyo na tinatanggap ng regular employees," he told reporters in a 24 Oras report by Maki Pulido.

(Their operations will be more efficient. Instead of the boundary system, they will get a fixed income, SSS deductions, the benefits of that regular employees get.)

The DOTr also said it is willing to extend the December 2023 deadline, but that the operators should show that they are already taking steps towards consolidation.

As of February 2023, the department added, 62.5% of the 180,000 traditional jeepneys in the country have now signed up for consolidation, but that only about 6,000 so far have been replaced by modern jeepneys.

In a press conference, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chief Teofilo Guadiz III said the agency is willing to make adjustments to address the needs of the groups on strike.

“We are willing to adjust to your needs basta ho ang importante dito tayo ay nagkakaintindihan, that we have one common denominator at ito ay kapakanan ng mga sumasakay sa ating pampublikong sasakyan,” he said.

(We are willing to adjust to your needs as long as what is important here is that we agree that we have a common denominator, which is the welfare of the commuters of public transport.)

Transport group PISTON on Monday called on President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to suspend the implementation of the guidelines for the PUVMP.

"Kailangan harapin ng ating pamahalaan lalo na ni BBM na kung puwede niyang gawin ay maglabas siya ng executive order na i-suspende yung implementation nung [Department of Transportation Order No.] 2017-011 na ito, 'yung omnibus franchising deadline,” PISTON president Mody Floranda said on Unang Balita.

(The government should face our concerns, especially Marcos, if he could issue an executive order suspending the implementation of Department Order No. 2017-011, which is the omnibus franchising deadline.)

According to the DOTr, only 5% of jeepney drivers and operators joined the strike nationwide and 10% in the National Capital Region. —VAL/BM, GMA Integrated News