GRACE PERIOD OVER. Traditional jeepneys stop at a pedestrian crossing in Kamuning Road near EDSA in Quezon City, this photo taken on May 15, 2024. Units that did not apply for consolidation under the modernization program will be apprehended starting Monday (June 10). (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – There is no more escape for unconsolidated public utility jeepneys (PUJs) as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will start apprehensions on Monday.

In response, transport groups will stage a nationwide three-day strike.

“’Yung mga nagwe-welga po sa kalye, ang sasabihin ko po sa kanila, magkita-kita tayo sa kalye (To those who will protest on the streets, see you there),” LTFRB chairperson Teofilo Guadiz said in an interview with GMA’s early evening news program “24 Oras” on June 6. “But make sure you have franchises.”

The deadline for consolidation ended on April 30, followed by a 15-day grace period.

Those who complied will be allowed to just submit a letter of intent, proof of cooperative/corporation, and photocopies of the official receipt and certificate of registration.

PUV operators or owners who did not consolidate will have their franchises revoked by the LTFRB.

Transport group Manibela (Samahang Manibela Mananakay at Nagkaisang Terminal ng Transportasyon) posted on Facebook that it will stand up for what is right and protect its members’ livelihood.

Sa darating na Hunyo 10 hanggang 11 o 12, muli tayong kumilos, lumabas at lumapag sa ating mga hanay, upang ihayag ang panggigipit ng DOTr-LTFRB sa kasangkapan ng MMDA sa panghuhuli (On June 10 to 11 or 12, we will make our move again, go out, gather our ranks and announce the harassment by the Department of Transportation-LTFRB, along with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, through apprehensions),” read Manibela’s post on June 7.

Manibela added that transport officials broke their commitment during a Congressional hearing not to apprehend drivers of unconsolidated units.

Muli, kakalampagin natin sila (Again, we will make our voices heard),” the group said.

DOTr Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Andy Ortega said the government had run out of ways to reach an agreement with transport groups opposing the Public Transport Modernization Program (PTMP), formerly the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.

He said they have conducted numerous dialogues with transport groups, including Piston (Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide) and Manibela, and several extensions on the deadline for consolidation since last year.

Ilang usapin ang ginawa ng LTFRB pati kami sa DOTr, especially sa mga kasamahan natin sa Piston (The LTFRB, as well as the DOTr, has spoken with these transport groups, especially Piston). We had half a dozen or more meetings with them, we discussed concerns and then we looked for solutions,” Ortega said in a televised interview on Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon aired over PTV on May 16.

Consolidation of individual franchises under cooperatives or corporations to facilitate the acquisition of new and environmentally friendly vehicles is one of the stages of the PTMP that seeks to overhaul the country’s transport sector.

The next stages are route rationalization or the assignment of transport routes, fleet management or controlling the number of operational public utility vehicles (PUVs) at any given time, and the replacement of old PUVs with modern counterparts that are equipped with Euro 4-compliant engines, modern amenities and safety features.

Apprehended PUVs may lead to one-year suspension for the driver, PHP50,000 fine for the operator and the vehicle being impounded for 30 days.

As of the first week of June, about 30,500 of 49,500 PUJs in Metro Manila have consolidated, according to LTFRB data. Nationwide, 81 percent of jeepney units have participated in the PTMP.

Manibela said to date, some 17,000 jeepney units remain unconsolidated in Metro Manila.

The previous “tigil-pasada” (trip stoppage) on April 29 to May 1 lacked support from operators and drivers, according to Orlando Marquez, Sr., national president of the Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas.

He told the Philippine News Agency that the greater part of the transport sector had already accepted the inevitability of the modernization program. (PNA)