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LTFRB lauds end of transport strike

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday welcomed the decision of transport groups to end their planned week-long transport strike, two days after it commenced.

In a statement, LTFRB chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III expressed openness to sit down with transport groups to discuss issues on the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

“Sa amin pong mga kaibigan sa Manibela at PISTON, pati na din po sa iba pang transport groups sa ating bansa, hindi po magbabago ang aming panawagan. Mananatili pong bukas ang aking tanggapan sa LTFRB, sa tulong na rin ng DOTr (Department of Transportation), kung saan maaari tayong mag-usap nang masinsinan kung paano pa mas mapabubuti ang PUVMP at kung paano makasusunod ang ating mga drayber at operator sa programa,” he said.

(To our friends in Manibela and PISTON, and to all other transport groups in the country, our call will not change. The LTFRB’s office remains open, with the help of DOTr, where we can have a deep dialogue to improve PUVMP and discuss how our drivers and operators can comply with the program.)

“Naniniwala po ang LTFRB na walang sigalot o 'di pagkaka-intindihan na hindi malulutas basta’s mag-uusap, magtutulong-tulong, magsasama-sama, at magkakaisa,” he said.

(The LTFRB believes that no dispute or misunderstanding can’t be resolved through dialogue, cooperation, and unity.)

On Tuesday afternoon, PISTON president Mody Floranda and Manibela leader Mar Valbuena's met with officials including Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil, the former chair of the LTFRB.

Both transport leaders declared that their members will resume plying their routes on Wednesday following the meeting and expressed support for the PUVMP “in ways where no one gets left behind, just, humane, and reasonable.”

Guadiz cited Valbuena and Floranda “for listening to the wisdom of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to sit down and discuss how to improve even further the tenets of Department Order 2017-011 or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, and how to make the PUVMP more ‘responsive and inclusive’ to the needs of drivers and operators, the lifeblood of the public transportation industry.”

“We have never wavered in asking our friends from Manibela and PISTON to sit down with us, to thresh out their concerns about the PUVMP and the modernization of the public transportation industry. We are glad they listened to our President,” the LTFRB chief said.

Guadiz said the agency and transport groups can all take the opportune time to sit down and help each other come up with an effective public transportation modernization program “that is responsive and inclusive not only of their needs but also that of the commuting public, who will ultimately benefit from a modernized, progressive, efficient, comfortable and safe commuting experience.”

The LTFRB chief also thanked the “collective wisdom” of President Marcos and Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista for their timely intervention in putting an end to the issue.

Guadiz also expressed his appreciation to all other government agencies and local government units for their invaluable assistance in helping mitigate the impact of this recent action on commuters.

On Facebook, Manibela declared there will be no phaseout.

“Mananatili ang tinaguriang Hari ng Kalsada! Walang phaseout! (The King of the Road will stay! There will be no phaseout!)" the post read.

The DOTr and the LTFRB, during the Senate public services hearing, clarified that traditional jeepneys can still operate as long they consolidated or part of a cooperative.

Under the program, jeepney drivers and operators are required to join or form cooperatives or corporations.

The program also aims to replace traditional jeepneys with vehicles powered by more environment-friendly fuels, particularly Euro-5 or Euro-6 compliant engines.

The LTFRB earlier announced that traditional jeepneys and UV express units only had until June 30 to join cooperatives or corporations to modernize. The deadline has since been extended to December 31.

Bautista earlier said he was open to extending the December 31, 2023 deadline for jeepney operators to consolidate or form cooperatives in compliance with the PUVMP.

In a separate statement, Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate public services committee, said the decision of transport groups to resume plying their routes was a big relief to commuters.

"Kinikilala natin ang maagap na pagtugon ng kasalukuyang ehekutibo sa mga hinaing ng sektor na matagal nang dumadaing laban sa programa (We recognize the immediate response of the administration to the requests of the sector that has long been complaining against the program)," she added.—AOL, GMA Integrated News