By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY — The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), PISTON, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Sanlakas, Move as One, Oriang, K4K, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) on Friday (Dec. 15) called for a just transition for the country’s transport sector.

In a press conference in Little Quiapo, Quezon City, Larry Pascua of PMCJ, expressed their support to the two-day transport strike being staged by Piston.

The burden of the so-called PUVMP should not be passed to the ordinary workers and to the transport sector.

They would like a review of the PUVMP as being pushed by Senator Grace Poe.

Flora Santos, of Oriang, said that they would surely be affected by the jeepney modernization program in terms of livelihood.

They are not against the PUVMP for as long as it is for the benefit and welfare of the transport sector.

Mody Floranda, President of Piston, said that the transport strike now is part of the transport strike they staged last March and November this year.

The strike was aimed at showing their opposition to the jeepney modernization program which requires a fund of P2.5 million to acquire a modern jeep.

Floranda cited that Sarao, Francisco Motors and Malaguena can be used to modernize the traditional jeepneys and not to secure the imported vehicles.

If they would not be allowed to ply their routes in January 2024, there will be a massive transport crisis nationwide.

Out of the 55,000 traditional jeepneys in Metro Manila, only 20,000 have been consolidated which is only 35 percent of the total volume of jeepneys in Metro Manila.

The government should promote local transport industry rather than a jeepney modernization program.

The LTFRB has issued memorandum circular 2257 in connection with the PUVMP which for them is not fair.

Jerome Adonis, of KMU, noted that the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines would result to the loss of thousands of jobs.

The P2.8 million under the PUVMP will be taken from the ordinary drivers.

The big companies are using climate justice through transition to renewable energy in promoting the PUVMP which is favorable to foreign companies.

Floranda stressed that they will march from LTFRB in going to the University of Sto. Tomas and then to Mendiola to show their opposition to the modernization program.

If the consolidation will not be extended from Dec. 31, 2023, there will be a nationwide transport crisis, according to Floranda.

Atty. Luke Espiritu, of the BMP, said that the so-called PUVMP is a misnomer such that the country has no manufacturing company for vehicles.

Non-modern, backward and parasitic elite was how Espiritu described the PUVMP.

The energy industry should be the focus in the sense that the coal-fired power plants and fossil fuel should be phased out.

To phase out the coal-fired power plants and the liquefied natural gas should be acted upon by authorities.

The worldwide public consensus is that the just transition should be publicly financed.

The press conference brought together leaders and representatives in the transport, climate justice, youth, and labor sectors to discuss demands to scrap the PUVMP, and to propose alternatives for a just transition that puts the workers first.

The PUVMP has been cited frequently as a bad example of a just transition.

A just transition requires the overall welfare of the environment and society—no one is left behind.

Under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG), jeepney drivers have been given only until Dec. 31, 2023 to consolidate.

Failure to consolidate means they will not be able to take to the road and will lose their livelihood, directly impacting their well-being and their families.

In Metro Manila alone, more than 31,000 drivers will be unable to operate, which will create a transport crisis that affects the greater Filipino public who relies on cheap public transportation to get to work, school, or other public services.

Espiritu stressed that the transition should be from fossil fuel to renewable energy which should be funded by the government.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, of Sanlakas, said that the modernization program started since the time of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2016.

The program was just being continued by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. but not a single jeepney driver was involved in the consultation process.

The Marcos administration is continuously supporting the rich capitalists at the expense of the poor Filipinos.

Sanlakas was one with the jeepney drivers that the modernization is not the solution.

Dean Rene Ofreneo, president of the FDC, said that the Freedom from Debt Coalition is also one in calling for the immediate stop and review of the PUVMP.

There should be proper inclusive, comprehensive, humane climate change actions to address the climate crisis.

The big companies who are now involved in coal-fired power plants and other fossil fuels should not be involved in the transition to renewable energy.

In 2016, they pushed for a Green Jobs Law to address the problem on food and agricultural products shortage.

There was no industrial policy. There was no just policy. There was no people policy. The just transition from fossil fuel to alternative or renewable energy should be accompanied with climate justice.