LTFRB reminded: No PUV phaseout during pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday reminded the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that any form of phaseout of public utility vehicles (PUVs) during the pandemic is prohibited under the Bayanihan to Recover as One-Act.
“Dito sa Bayanihan [law], talagang naglagay tayo ng provision na wala muna pwedeng ipaiiral na mga memorandums stopping our PUV drivers [to ply the road] this time na may pandemic, na kulang pa talaga yung suporta ng ating pamahalaan,” said Poe, chairperson Senate public service committee.
(Under the Bayanihan law, we put a provision that would disallow the issuance of memorandums that would essentially stop our PUV drivers from plying the road during this time of the pandemic, when support from the government is still lacking.)
Her panel conducted a hearing into the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) to hear both sides of concerns coming from the stakeholders of the transportation sector and the LTFRB.
“Lagi kong sinasabi ito tuwing mga drayber ang pinag-uusapan: Gusto nating maging ligtas ang ating mga daan at pampublikong sasakyan. Ngunit, ika nga nila – there are two sides to every story and as policymakers, we are expected to consider both,” Poe said.
(Like what I always say when issues concern our drivers: We want safer streets and public transportation—but as they say— there are two sides to every story and as policymakers, we are expected to consider both).
“Surely, there must be a way to modernize our public utility vehicles without throwing our drivers under the proverbial bus,” she added.
During the hearing, LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra told senators that a total of 2,589 units have been modernized as of Dec. 2020, an 82.2-percent increase compared to the same time last year despite the pandemic.
On the other hand, a total of 81,092 units have been consolidated as of March 5, 2021, according to Delgra.
“My takeaway from the whole presentation is that there’s a marked improvement of those who are willing to join, pero hindi natin maipagkakailang marami pa ring napag-iiwanan [but we can’t discount the fact that there are those who are being left behind],” Poe said.
According to Poe, data shows that around 100,000 PUV drivers and operators will be displaced as a result of the PUVMP.
Delgra, however, clarified that operators who have yet to consolidate in time for the March 31 deadline will not be forced to phase out but are given time to consolidate within the year.
‘Lift unnecessary burdens’
“In order to truly heal and recover as one, we need to lift unnecessary burdens caused by deadlines and requirements that could not possibly be met by hundreds of thousands of PUV operators,” Poe said.
The key components of the PUVMP include Local Public Transport Route Planning (LPTRP) where local government units are required to prepare their own LPTRP that will be implemented in their selective localities, route rationalization that aims to address operational inefficiencies and worsening of traffic conditions, fleet modernization, industry consolidation, and social support mechanisms.
Poe asked stakeholders during the hearing to submit their requests and concerns to her office and the LTFRB for further study and consideration and asked the agency to submit the step-by-step procedure to apply for a cooperative to ensure the process’ compliance to the Anti-Red Tape Act.
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