Transport groups ask SC to declare JAO unconstitutional

By DELIA BAGNI
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — Transport groups in the city petition the Supreme Court justices to declare the Public Utility Jeepney (PUJ) phase out and Joint Administrative Order (JAO 2014-01) jointly crafted by the Department of Transportation and Communications, Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) unconstitutional.

According to Lito Wayas, chairperson of Pagkakaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston)-Metro Baguio and co-convenor of Baguio-Benguet Movement Against PUJ phase out and JAO, that drivers and operators in the city are taking advantage of the SC summer session here to put forward their demand to declare JAO 2014-01 unconstitutional.

The SC annually comes up to the city for their summer sessions.

Wayas said that the phasing out of public utility vehicles older than 15 years is in line with modernization plans of the transport-related government agencies giving way to the Private Public Partnership (PPP) of the Aquino administration. He added that if the modernization plan pushes through all 15 year-old public utility will be phased out and operators and drivers will be required to purchase e-jeepneys by 2018. He said that e-jeepneys will cost P800,000 to 1.5 million.

“It is good for those who can avail to purchase such vehicles but how about us that have no capacity to buy one unit,” Wayas said.

“We are not against modernization, but we small operators and drivers are concerned more for our livelihood. Where will we get money for our kids tuition and for daily needs especially that driving is the only work that we know,” Wayas added.

Wayas said the government says the reason behind the phase out is to minimize pollution but government welcomed big extractive corporations that produce more toxic fumes.

He added that another concern of the alliance is the implementation of JAO 2014-01, which was issued June 4, 2014. It substantially increased “fines and penalties for violating laws, rules and regulations governing land transportation.

Under the JAO colorum bus operators will be fined P1 million; truck and van operators, P200,000; sedan operators, P120,000; jeepney owners, P50,000; and motorcycle operators, P6,000. It likewise covers “other PUV-related violations like refusal to convey passengers to their destination; overcharging; employing reckless, insolent, discourteous or arrogant drivers; operating PUVs with defective parts; using tampered taximeters; and trip cutting. Each violation has corresponding fines and penalties as specified in the order.”

“The excessive fines provide in the said ordinance are unreasonable and also unconstitutional because the affected sector, us the drivers were not consulted.” Wayas said.

The JAO took effect last June 19, 2014 after the Supreme Court failed to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed against it by several transport groups last June 10 of the same year when the high court merely ordered the three agencies “to comment within 10 days from notice (of the complaint).

Baguio-Benguet Movement Against PUJ phase out and JAO invites fellow public utility vehicles operators and drivers to join the nationally coordinated “Transport Holiday” on Monday as part of efforts to stop phase out of PUJ and JAO implementation. # nordis.net

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