THE Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has given individual operators of traditional jeepneys until December 31, 2023, to join a cooperative or corporation for them to be granted with provisional authority for franchise or else they will no longer be allowed to operate.

In a press conference on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, LTFRB Chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III said they will be issuing a new memorandum circular for the extension of the public utility vehicle (PUV) franchise consolidation until the end of the year.

Guadiz said this is in response to the clamor of the transport sector but denied that the move was made to stop the looming one-week strike of PUV drivers and operators starting March 6.

“There is no pressure for us for this strike because more than 90 percent of the transport groups have signified their support for the program of the LTFRB,” Guadiz said.

“We will be extending the deadline to give the transport sector more time to consolidate,” he added.

Guadiz said they came up with the decision “in deference” to the Senate resolution seeking the postponement of the jeepney phaseout and the request of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista to give more time for the transport sector to consolidate.

The LTFRB earlier approved Memorandum Circular 2023-013, indicating that individual operators of traditional jeepneys will no longer be allowed to continue their operations after June 30, 2023 unless they join a cooperative or corporation, as part of the national government’s PUV modernization program.

The program is aimed at replacing old and traditional jeepneys with high-quality and environmentally friendly vehicles with bigger capacities.

In a radio interview, Mar Valbuena, chairman of the transport group Manibela, said their week-long transport holiday will push through, which will be joined by around 40,000 traditional jeepneys and UV Express units.

“Tuloy po ang tigil-pasada kasi dito po sa nilabas nila, panlilinlang po ito na para kaming bata na sinubuan ng candy. Actually, pinadilaan nga lang tapos bibigay na kami. Hindi po ganoon,” he said.

(The transport holiday will continue because what they released is a deception, like we’re children given a piece of candy to be tasted and just give in? It shouldn’t be like that.)

Valbuena said they complied with the consolidation requirement but failed to meet the deadline. He added that by requiring them to join existing cooperatives, they now have to pay new membership fees.

“[Taong] 2021 pinutol iyong consolidation nung mga iba-ibang transport cooperative. Hindi kami natapos. Basura na, so back to zero ngayon. Kung gusto naming sumali, poproseso ulit kami pero doon na sa naunang kooperatiba na nagcomply,” Valbuena said.

(The consolidation of transport cooperatives was halted in 2021. We did not finish. It’s all in the can and we are back to zero. We will have to follow a process again but this time, to the cooperatives who earlier complied.)

“Ngayon, naglabas ng memo-circular, sumama na kayo sa nauna nang nakapag-consolidate. Ano po implications nito? Hindi na kami magiging cooperative, mga members po namin sasali sa existing cooperatives na nauna nang nakapag-comply. Ano mangyayari doon? magmemyembro nanaman kami doon, may membership fee nanaman panibagong gastos nanaman. E di, nadoble,” he added.

(Now, a memorandum circular has been released, asking us to join those who have already consolidated. Its implications? We will no longer be cooperative, members will join existing cooperatives that have already complied. What will happen next? We will become members, there will be a membership fee, another new cost.)

Valbuena said they are not against the phasing out of traditional jeepneys, however, acquiring a modern vehicle will take time and applying for a loan that the government offers is not easy.

Each modern jeepney costs around P2.7 million. (SunStar Philippines)