QUEZON CITY – Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Atty. Teofilo Guadiz III on Thursday (Nov. 16) urged the public to help them in the threat of a transport strike to be staged by the group PISTON (Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide) on Nov. 20.23.
In a press conference at the LTFRB Central Office in East Avenue, Quezon City, Guadiz also appealed to PISTON not to proceed with the transport strike next week.
The LTFRB Chief also denied the statement of PISTON claiming that the old public utility vehicles (PUVs) will be phased out starting Jan. 1, 2024.
Guadiz noted that the consolidation program of the public utility vehicles has deadline which has already been set on Dec. 31, 2023.
He cited that according to the technical head of the LTFRB, it is not true that the consolidation of PUVs will be completed within three or six months.
“The truth is that for as long as the public transport is operational or ‘road-worthy’, the drivers or operators can still ply within their franchise routes,” Guadiz said.
Joel J. Bolano, head of LTFRB technical department, said that “Actually, it’s within a period of 27 months within which to modernize but not to phase out the public utility vehicles (PUVs) under the PUV modernization program of the LTFRB.”
“The operators will still be running the consolidated entity where the franchise is granted in order to operate in their franchise area,” Bolano added.
He noted that “Firstly, the operator or individual operator is not the one footing up the bill. The consolidated entity will be the one who will pay the franchise fee.”
As of October 2023, Bolano said that about 95,000 PUVs have already been consolidated and 13,000 plus UVs have also been consolidated nationwide.
“At this point in time, this will really be the basis to come up with the specific guidelines on the consolidation. However, those who have yet to be consolidated by Dec. 31, 2023 could still ply in their franchise route on Jan. 1, 2024,” Bolano said.
Before the Dec. 31, 2023 deadline of the consolidation, the LTFRB will come out with a memorandum circular for those who have yet to be consolidated.
“Just to comply with the Philippine National Standard (PNS). Under the PNS, a PUV unit should reform and be modernized with certain requirements,” Bolano said.
The LTFRB Chief also urged the drivers and operators to unite and help each other for the welfare of the commuting public.
“As early as two days ago, I have been calling on Ka Florin Miranda of PISTON to talk about their plan of a transport strike and he said that they would like to inform PBBM (President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos, Jr.) about their problem,” Guadiz said.
“As of October 2023, 60 percent of the PUVs in the whole Philippinse has already been consolidated. I’m sure it will still increase,” he added.
The LTFRB Chief assured that they are willing to provide the reasonable period of time within which for the drivers and operators to avail and implement the consolidation program.
Guadiz is also now in the process of talking with big manufacturing companies for the transportation industry where the drivers and operators would not shell out any cash or be burdened by monthly installment, but rather, they will earn a monthly income.
The LTFRB is also waiting for the price of the petroleum products to stabilize this November, then they will study the petition for another fare increase by December.
“If you don’t have a franchise, I don’t know how you can run your vehicle in your franchise area,” Guadiz said.
“If the franchise route is already consolidated, I think you too should also avail of the consolidation,” he added.
Based on the LTFRB’s latest count, the concentration of the transport strike will be in Metro Manila.
Likewise, Guadiz would not recommend the suspension of public and private schools as well as office work during the transport strike on Nov. 20-23, 2023.
Meanwhile, the LTFRB chief said that almost 80 percent of the subsidy have already been given to the concerned drivers and operators.
The LTFRB is also currently in the process of coordinating with local government units (LGUs), through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), pertaining to the subsidy to tricycle drivers.
Guadiz also said that they are conducting a separate investigation from that of the Philippine National Police (PNP) shooting incident in a bus in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija which claimed the lives of two victims.
The LTFRB is looking into whether the bus company has violated any provision of the memorandum circular it issued on provincial buses. – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.