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DOTr mulls raps vs. protesters of PUV modernization

Protesters who joined the two-day transport strike rejecting the implementation of the government's public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program may face complaints for inconveniencing the public, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday said.

According to Joseph Morong's report on 24 Oras, the DOTr said the nationwide strike launched by groups PISTON and MANIBELA failed to paralyze transportation systems, but generated enough traffic that adversely affected commuters and motorists.

"Ang nakita namin obstruction, which created traffic. Mayroon naman talaga silang right na ipaglaban ‘yung kanilang karapatan pero huwag naman sanang maapektuhan 'yung travelling public natin," said Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista.

(We saw obstruction that created traffic. They may certainly fight for their rights, but these should not affect the traveling public.)

The 24 Oras report said Bautista's statements were in view of traffic snarls Monday in Quezon City along Commonwealth Avenue, Welcome Rotonda, and part of East Avenue in front of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) office, among others.

"They (Protesters) were successful in creating traffic. (But) we were able to prove to them [that] the government is ready to address the transport issues," Bautista said.

The government is moving forward with the PUV Modernization Program after President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. last week said there would be no more extension of the April 30 deadline of the application for consolidation of individual operators to form or join transportation cooperatives.

Impounding areas are now being prepared, the 24 Oras report said, for colorum or unconsolidated units that would be apprehended starting May 1.

LTFRB's warning

At the Welcome Rotonda on Tuesday, drivers of traditional jeepneys that were part of the protest action were issued traffic violation tickets. Three alleged colorum vehicles were impounded.

"Ang sa amin, magdi-disperse na kami… Aalis na kami… Panggigipit na naman po itong ginawa po sa amin," said MANIBELA President Mar Valbuena.

(We were about to disperse… We were about to leave… They are pressuring us again.)

The LTFRB said it has identified 37 jeepneys that were used in the rally, 12 of which were tagged as colorum. The rest face the possibility of losing their franchises, the 24 Oras report said.

"On April 30, kung sila'y nag-consolidate, baka masuspinde sila for joining a rally o kung totally hindi na nag-consolidate 'yan, tanggal na ang prangkisa nila automatic," said LTFRB chief Teofilo Guadiz III.

(For those who consolidated by April 30, they could be suspended for joining a rally. If they totally did not consolidate, their franchises may be automatically revoked.)

PISTON and MANIBELA vowed to show stronger protest on the second day of the transport strike, although some commuters in Metro Manila told 24 Oras they did not feel its effects.

However, slight traffic buildup was reported Tuesday along parts of East Avenue and Welcome Rotonda.

Transportation in Iloilo City and Talisay, Negros Occidental was also assessed as normal despite the protest.

Consolidation is the initial stage of the government's PUV Modernization Program that aims to replace traditional jeepneys with vehicles that have at least a Euro 4-compliant engine to lessen pollution and replace units that were not deemed roadworthy under the standards of the Land Transportation Office (LTO). — Jiselle Anne Casucian/ VDV, GMA Integrated News