Piston-Cebu: Over 100 drivers to join nationwide protest against PUV modernization
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Over a hundred drivers and operators in Cebu are expected to join the nationwide protest against the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.
The Cebu Chapter of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) will hold a one-day work stoppage on Nov. 22 to rally against the Dec. 31 deadline for the application of the consolidation franchise for PUVs that will be covered by the program.
“Makahatag gyud ni ug kadaot gyud sa atong mga kaigsuonang mga operator [ug drayber] labi na sa plano nga taman nalang ta [mga PUJ] sa December 31,” Ganny Dato of Piston-Cebu said during a press conference on Friday, Nov. 17.
But while Piston’s national leadership was calling for a three-day strike, Piston-Cebu will only be joining on Nov. 22 in deference to the feast of the Virgen de la Regla in Lapu-Lapu City.
Dato said they do not intend to cause disruptions to public transportation, but the conduct of a one-day protest was necessary because their silence would inevitably lead to their removal from the streets.
During their protest, Dato said Piston-Cebu members would converge on at least four major routes in Cebu City. Two of these are along Gorordo Avenue and in Barangay Mabolo. The two other convergence points are yet to be finalized.
Aldo Serat, another Piston-Cebu member, said that the conduct of a protest was not just meant to solicit attention but to also defend their source of livelihood, which is being threatened by the national government.
“Pangibuhian gud ni ang mawala sa atong mga draybers ug operators. Diha nakita [namo] nga kinahanglanon ang protesta kay tungod nakita sa grupo nga daghan ang mawad-an ug trabaho labi na nag ong-ong na ang deadline sa December 31,” Serat said.
The PUV Modernization Program started in 2017 with the issuance of Department Order (D.O.) No. 2017-011 or the Omnibus Guidelines on the Planning and Identification of Public Road Transportation Services and Franchise Issuance or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG).
Under the program a certain standard to maximize the benefits of modern jeepneys across the country would be implemented.
All jeepney engines should at least be Euro-4 and PNS- (Philippine National Standards) compliant engines or LPG-powered, electronic, and hybrid. Having GPS, an automated fare collection system, and a CCTV camera are also required.
“Ug atong klarohon ang deadline nga giingon sa taga LTFRB nga extension lang daw [ December 31] sa consolidation pero nganong extension man siya nga wala nila gi-klaro unsay mahitabo sa sunod nga tuig sa atong mga sakyanan,” Serat said.
LTFRB has issued Memorandum Circular 2023-013 which gives PUV operators until June 30, 2023, to join an existing consolidated entity, otherwise, they will no longer be allowed to continue their operations.
The agency, however, said that they were also open to the possibility of extending the validity of franchises that were issued to traditional jeepneys beyond December 31 to ensure the availability of sufficient public transport.
But PUJ drivers continue to oppose the government’s modernization program which would lead to the loss of their livelihood.
“Nagkahiusa mi, dili lang para sa katawhan, pero para sa mga katwahan, mga sumasakay, mga drivers. Kay ug mawad-an ug pangibuhian ang atong mga drivers, unsa nalang may padulngan sa libo-libo ka mga drivers ug mga gagmay natong operators?” Serat said.
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