A petition to the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) Supreme Court was filed by jeepney drivers and operators meant to stop the implementation of the PUV (public utility vehicle) phaseout set to happen on January next year. The group demands to scrap plans to phaseout jeepneys under the veil of the deceptive modernization program and mandatory franchise consolidation. The Marcos regime’s pronouncement last December 12 that the December 31 phaseout deadline will push through vindicated the objective of the transport strike, according to Piston.
The government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) once implemented, will force operators to consolidate or give up their individual franchise to become a single franchise under a cooperative or corporation. They also stated in the petition that no one has the right to force them to form or join any association against their will.
In their petition to the SC, Piston argued that the PUV phaseout program is contrary to their right to free association. “Revocation of the franchise for not joining the cooperative is against the rights of drivers and operators,” said Mody Floranda, Piston’s national president. “They will be deprived of their livelihood on the basis of not joining the cooperatives,” he added.
If the mandatory consolidation deadline of December 31 continues, it is estimated that 30,862 jeepney units and 4,852 UV Express units will be unable to operate in the National Capital Region (NCR) because of their refusal to consolidate their franchise operations. Nearly 64,000 drivers and 25,000 operators in NCR alone will lose their livelihood. The decision will also affect 28.5 million passengers nationwide.
“Marcos Jr is heartless because of the mass unemployment and serious public transport nightmare he will unleash in the new year,” said Floranda. Piston said it is requesting immediate action from the Supreme Court to save not only the livelihood of drivers and operators, but also the welfare of commuters.
The Piston and Manibela group launched a strike again starting December 21 to demand the scrapping of the forced consolidation of the franchise and the PUVMP.