We shall continue with the PUV Modernization Program. For the sake of this country, let us have political will. No delays, no postponement, let us get this done.
That is the exact directive of Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to road transport officials following reports that the program, the biggest transformational initiative of the Duterte administration, will be postponed or delayed.
Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra assured Tugade that the implementation of the modernization of land-based public transport has started and will continue, and that he is committed to succeed where so many others have failed before.
“Challenge accepted. Haharapin ko ng buong tapang. Walang duda, mahirap po ito. Marami ang kontra at nag-aalinlangan. Pero sa tingin ko naman po, mas maraming makikinabang. Maybe some sectors do not see the urgent need in this now, as it is natural for people to fight change, but they will see the full benefits and beauty soon enough,” said Delgra.
The LTFRB chief added that there is no stopping the PUV Modernization Program, no matter the challenges.
“Allow us to state categorically that the PUV Modernization Program is a go. It is currently being implemented, as it is happening now. Not in another decade, but now,” he said.
Tugade and Delgra were reacting to news reports following a Senate hearing on 8 October 2018, particularly on the discussion regarding Memorandum Circulars 2018-006 and 2018-008, which set the guidelines for the program’s initial implementation and the consolidation of franchises, respectively.
For his part, DoTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport Mark de Leon clarified that transport officials did not say that the implementation will be postponed or delayed, but committed to review the timeline that says franchises must be consolidated by March 2019.
“The March 2019 is a timeline, not a deadline, bearing in mind that the transition period is until June 2020 — three years after the launching of the PUVMP and the signing of the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG). Units are really not going to be replaced and franchises are not going to be cancelled. Ang pinag-uusapan lang po natin dito ay consolidation ng units na kasalukuyan na po nating ginagawa,” De Leon said.
Under MC 2018-008, individual operators are encouraged to consolidate to participate in the modernization program. Current franchises of those who are unable and/or unwilling to participate in the PUVMP after March 2019 will remain valid during the transition period. They may continue to use their existing units until the end of the transition, subject to the provisions of their current franchises.
So far, 484 cooperatives have been formed. 131 of which were already issued franchises covering 3,273 authorized units.
“Handa po kaming ipatupad ito. Hindi naman po siguro kami kukuha ng bato na ipupukpok sa sarili namin. Kung dati, hanggang plano lang, ibahin niyo po kami,” Secretary Tugade said.
The transportation chief likewise urged various government and transport leaders to start helping.
“We have taken the initial bold step towards progress, and we need leaders who can tell us where else we can do better, not tell us why it cannot be done. Ang tagal na po naghihintay ng mga commuters, pero hanggang ngayon puro pa rin tayo dahilan. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and it may not be popular among a certain sector, but that does not make it wrong,” added Secretary Tugade.
On another note, Secretary Tugade also called out transport groups who continue to threaten the government of launching their own version of a “Red October” transport strike because of rising fuel prices, which is primarily a consequence of world market factors.
Some groups claim they are being wrongly tagged, when the exact words such as “mamumuti ang mata ng mga mananakay”, came from them. They also said that they will “break the windshields” of government vehicles that will be used to respond to affected passengers.
DoTr and LTFRB firmly reiterate that any strike or intentional attempt to inconvenience our riding public will not be tolerated as it is a violation and an abandonment of their state-given privilege to hold franchises.
“Let us not be cowed by threats like this. Hindi po tayo dapat nakukuha sa mga pagbabantang ganyan. Ang pagkakaroon ng prangkisa ay hindi karapatan kundi isang pribilehiyo na may kaakibat na responsibilidad sa mga mananakay,” said Secretary Tugade.
The DOTr and the LTFRB assure that doors for dialogue remain open and that all stakeholders will continue to be engaged.