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Only 10% of NCR routes affected by Day 1 of transport strike —LTFRB

The first day of the planned week-long strike of some transport groups to protest the government's public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program affected only 10% of routes in Metro Manila, an official of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said Monday.

"Yung first day ngayon based sa reports doon sa ground sa Metrobase Command Center, sa Metro Manila ang affected is almost 10% of the total Metro Manila routes," LTFRB Technical Division head Joel Bolano said on The Mangahas Interviews.

(Based on the reports on the ground received by the Metrobase Command Center, in Metro Manila, almost 10% of the total Metro Manila routes were affected by the strike on the first day.)

"Pero may mga specific routes na medyo heavy 'yung effect," he said.

(But there were specific routes that were a bit heavily affected.)

Bolano said they were able to deploy rescue buses and other government vehicles to provide free rides to commuters affected by the strike.

Up to 100 units were on standby on Monday for free rides, he added.

Bolano said the transport strike affected areas in Metro Manila, Region 4A, and Region 3, but "rest of the country is normal."

There were a couple of incidents that resulted in tension, one in Novaliches, Quezon City, and one in Region 4A, but police were able to respond immediately, he added.

Regarding Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista's warning to the transport sector that the government may revoke the franchises of those who will take part in the strike, Bolano said this is already included in the Certificate of Public Convenience given to operators.

"Alam ng operators na ang kanilang franchise ay may kaakibat na responsibility. Ang CPC nila ay may terms and conditions. Isa po doon ay 'yung hindi ka puwedeng sumama sa strike na magkakaroon ng epekto sa iyong service," he said.

(Operators know that their franchise comes with responsibility. Their CPC has terms and conditions. One of these is that you cannot join a strike that would affect your service.)

"Kung sakaling may evidences nakuha natin sa ground... may due process naman iyan, shino-show cause ng LTFRB 'yan at pinoproseso," Bolano added.

(Should there be evidences we can gather from the ground, there will be due process. The LTFRB will issue a show-cause order and process it.)

The LTFRB official also said as early as 2018, the government held caravans to inform the transport sector about the PUV modernization program.

The program aims to replace traditional jeepneys with vehicles powered by more environment-friendly fuels. Operators and drivers can apply for new franchises, but as part of consolidated transport cooperatives.

The LTFRB has extended the June 30 deadline for jeepney operators to form cooperatives to December 31, 2023.

Bolano also clarified that old jeepneys may still ply routes as part of consolidated entities.

"'Pag nag-consolidate ka, 'yung luma mong jeep, puwede ka pa rin naman tumakbo kasi nagsa-start pa lang naman tayo sa first component. Ibig sabihin mag-ooperate ka na as a consolidated entity. Medyo mama-manage mo na 'yung ruta mo," he said.

(When you are part of a consolidated entity, you can still use your old jeep since we are still at the first component. That means you are operating as consolidated entity. You will be able to manage your route.)

Asked about the high cost of new units that are environment-friendly, Bolano said it is not the individual operator who will assume a bank loan for the purchase of the unit but the consolidated entity. This makes it easier for operators to get new units.

One other advantage of the PUV modernization program is that drivers will not have to rely on the boundary system. Instead, drivers will earn regular salaries, he said.

"Kasi ang binabago nitong PUV modernization hindi lang iyong babaguhin mo iyong unit para maging modern, but you have also to change the system of operating a public transport. Kapag ikaw ay boundary system, naka-depende ka lang doon sa kikitain. Kapag consolidated ka, salary-based na po ito. Bukod pa doon sa mga other incentive, may salary kang tatanggapin whether nakapagsakay ka ng isa o limang pasahero, may iuuwi ka sa pamilya," he said.

(The PUV modernization seeks to change not just the unit for it to be modern, but the system of operating a public transport as well. If you are operating under a boundary system, your income will depend on what you earn for the day. When you are part of a consolidated entity, aside from other incentives, you will receive a salary whether you have just one passenger or five passengers. You will bring home some income for the family.)

Bolano said there are 74 accredited manufacturers of units for the PUV modernization program.

Regarding alleged lobbying of some dealers and assemblers, he said: "Hindi namin alam saan nanggagaling 'yan."

(We do not know where that report came from.)

The LTFRB official said 62% of target public utility jeepneys in the country have already been consolidated into transport cooperatives.

"Out of the benchmark namin na existing sa PUJs, ang target natin ay 158,000 across the country ma-modernize...62% na po niyan ay na-consolidate," Bolano said.

(Out of the benchmark for existing PUJs, our target is to have 158,000 jeepneys modernized. Sixty-two percent of those have already been consolidated.)

Regarding the concern of some sectors that the PUV modernization program will remove the traditional jeepney's iconic place in Filipino culture as "king of the road," Bolano said the program's guidelines only specify certain sizes and engines for units, not the way they should look.

"We encourage 'yung ating mga local manufacturers kung makapag-create sila ng iconic jeep na compliant with the Philippine national standard, locally made siya, napakaganda ...," he said.

(We encourage our local manufacturers to create an iconic jeep compliant with the Philippine national standard that is locally made.) —KG, GMA Integrated News