Militant drivers and operators urged the Supreme Court to expedite the decision on their petition for a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the year-end jeepney franchise consolidation deadline.
In a supplemental motion, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) said the suspension of the deadline shall prevent the “grave and irreparable injury” the jeepney drivers and operators, their families, the commuters, and the public, in general, will likely suffer at the start of the new year.
“[M]illions of drivers, operators, and their families, as well as commuters all over the country will experience a severe impact on their income and livelihood should the franchise of thousands of PUV operators be canceled on January 1, 2024,” PISTON added.
The group filed the initial petition before Christmas against the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) which orders the surrender of individual franchises to cooperatives and corporations by December 31.
PISTON argues the consolidation scheme only aims to take away the livelihood of jeepney owners and operators in favor of corporations and big businessmen.
“Hundreds of thousands of citizens are affected, will lose their livelihoods, will be buried in debt or will have serious problems with additional expenses,” PISTON national president Mody Floranda said.
PISTON likewise warned that so-called modern jeepneys will increase basic fares to around P40-P50 once the PUVMP goes into full effect.
“No matter how you look at it, this bogus modernization brings nothing good to the people,” Floranda said.
In a statement Thursday, December 28, however, the Supreme Court declined to immediately issue a decision to PISTON’s original petition and instead ordered the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB) to reply within 10 days.
DoTr secretary Jaime Bautista meanwhile claimed that “majority” of jeepney operators support the program with 70% already participating in the process.
The December 31 franchise consolidation deadline stays, Bautista declared.
PISTON however belied Bautista’s claims, citing an Inclusive Cities Advocacy Network study saying 73% of Metro Manila’s traditional jeepneys will be disqualified from modernization.
Floranda also criticized LTFRB’s announcement it will give out temporary permits to jeepney operators on some routes after January 1 if they commit to having their franchise consolidated.
“That proposal is just a stopgap measure. Eventually, those who bought temporary permits will also be affected by the phase-out. This proves that the whole program is a failure,” Floranda said.
PISTON and fellow transport organization Manibela are set to stage a rally at Malacanang today, Friday, following a solidarity lunch at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.
The groups said the impending transport crisis is ultimately President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s fault for his refusal to suspend the PUVMP.
PISTON also announced the success of Thursday’s transport strike in Davao City that paralyzed some routes in Mindanao’s main metropolis.
This article was first published by KODAO Productions