BAGUIO CITY — The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) slammed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for its deception and threats to jeepney operators.

In the regional forum on PUV modernization on November 30 in the city, PISTON chairperson emeritus George San Mateo said the pronouncement made by the transport department to allow old jeepneys to ply their route beyond the June 30 deadline set by the government for the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program is pure “deception and blackmail.” According to him, the requirements instituted by DOTr for the extension will ultimately end to phase-out of their jeepneys.

“Actually yung ipinahayag ng DOTr essentially ay mapanlinlang kasi sinasabi na papayagan na daw nila yung extension ng mga kasalukyang jeep lagpas ng June 2020 pero nagpataw naman sila ng mabibigat na kondisyon (The statement of DOTr is deceptive because they said they will allow the extension of current jeeps beyond the June 2020 but they put burdensome conditions),” he said.

The DOTr said that while they will push through with the program, the agency would allow old jeepneys to operate provided they meet certain conditions. The transport department required operators to submit their petition for consolidation on or before June 30, 2020. Their vehicles must also pass the motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) or roadworthiness test.

“Ang ibig sabihin ng nais nilang isumiteng petisyon ng mga operators ay pagpapahayag na sila ay papaloob sa PUV modernization. Kaya yung mismong requirement ay tutungo din sa pagphase-out ng mga jeepney (The petition they are asking the operators to submit means, the operators are agreeing to subject themselves to the PUV modernization program. The requirement essentially means allowing the phase-out of their vehicles),” he explained.

The PISTON leader acknowledged the need for the MVIS. However, he said the problem lies with the arbitrary decision of DOTr to change the standards for the test.

“Ang sinsabi kasi nila dapat high-tech at compliant sa Euro 4 standards kaya binago nila mula sa 2.5 carbon emission ay ibinaba sa 1.5, so usapin talaga iyon iyon kasi wala naman silang malinaw na inihahaing program para tulungan kaming i-upgrade ang aming makina (They said that we should comply with the Euro 4 so they change the standards from 2.5 carbon emission to 1.5 and there lies the problem because [the government] is not presenting programs to assist us in upgrading our engines),” he added.

He noted that the problem lies in the push of the government to consolidate existing franchise and force operators to buy new vehicles worth millions. According to him, the financial and logistical requirements to run a fleet of PUVs are above the capacity of small operators, even if they create a cooperative. This, he said, will eventually lead to the monopoly of transport companies and big cooperatives.

San Mateo pointed out that DOTr does not intend to allow them to operate even if they rehabilitate and upgrade their vehicles.

“Malinaw yan doon sa sinasabi nilang kapag hindi natuloy magconsolidate ang mga jeepney sa isang ruta ay ibibigay nila sa mga nakatayo ng kooperatiba. So kahit ayusin pa naming ang aming mga sasakayan at kahit magsumite pa kami ng mga nirerequire nila pero tumanggi kami sa consolidation, talagang ipipilit nila yung nais nila ng walang konsiderasyon sa kalagayan namin (Their statement is clear that if jeepney operators do not undergo franchise consolidation, the government will give the route to existing cooperatives. So even if we fixed our vehicles and submitted the requirements but refused to consolidate, they will enforce their objective without considering our situation),” the PISTON leader said.

According to him, DOTr only modified its statement to make it more acceptable for the transport sector. However, he noted that by keeping the June 30 deadline for the petition to consolidate and the franchise consolidation scheme, DOTr is actually blackmailing jeepney owners.

San Mateo said what the government is eyeing is “illegal” since their franchises cannot be canceled without due process. He also reiterated the government should come up with a more inclusive and pro-people PUV modernization plan and with sufficient consultation with the transport sector. # nordis.net

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