SC asked to press the brakes on jeepney phaseout | Inquirer News

SC asked to press the brakes on jeepney phaseout

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:30 AM December 21, 2023

Piston president Mody Floranda —INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON sc jeepney phaseout

Piston president Mody Floranda —INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON

Transport and commuter rights groups petitioned the Supreme Court on Wednesday to stop and ultimately void all government orders requiring the consolidation of franchises by Dec. 31 for the phaseout of traditional jeepneys under the government’s public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).

In the 56-page petition, Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) president Mody Floranda, along with stakeholders from commuter and transport sectors, moved to prevent the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) from implementing the controversial program.


The petitioners sought a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the year-end deadline for franchise consolidation, as they urged the high court to nullify all orders and circulars formalizing the PUV modernization plan for being unconstitutional.


The other petitioners are jeepney operator Jason Fajilagutan; Gaylord Despuez, Bayan Muna party list’s Metro Manila coordinator; Elmer Forro, No To PUV Phaseout Coalition of Panay member; and Ma. Flora May Cerna, spokesperson of the commuter group Komyut.

Impact on ‘millions’

“The matter of the mandatory consolidation of franchises is a matter of public and personal interest for the petitioners in this case. It is more so a matter of transcendental importance, with potential effect on millions of operators, drivers, users and beneficiaries of jeepney operations,” they wrote in the petition.

Named respondents in the petition were the DOTr, represented by Secretary Jaime Bautista; and the LTFRB, represented by its chair, Teofilo Guadiz III.

The petitioners argued that the administrative orders were issued in grave abuse of discretion and violated their constitutional right to freedom of association and the voluntary nature of a cooperative under Republic Act (RA) No. 9520 or the Cooperative Code.

“[They] are overly broad and infringe the constitutional freedom of association… these issuances force the drivers and operators to join an organization or cooperative,” they said, noting that the Supreme Court, in previous decisions, had repeatedly ruled that the right to join an association carried with it the right not to join.

Thus, the government orders are “oppressive, overreaching and confiscatory” in nature, violating their right to due process, equal protection of laws, and right against unreasonable seizures, the petitioners said.


“[T]he revocation of the individual operators’ provisional authorities for failure to consolidate into juridical entities thereby prohibiting them from being registered as a public utility vehicles are confiscatory and oppressive of their property rights,” they argued.

Social inequality

The petitioners added that implementing the jeepney phaseout would only further social inequality, arguing that the assailed orders and circulars would violate their rights to gainful employment and livelihood and cause a deleterious impact not only on drivers and operators but also on commuters.

“The jeepney modernization program, to reiterate, was not created by law. It was merely crafted through administrative issuances of the DOTr and the LTFRB, whereby the former directed the latter ‘to encourage and require the consolidation of operators and the establishment of bigger coordinated fleets of PUVs,’” they said.

The petitioners also raised the difficulty of accessing public transport, saying commuters scrambled to get into jeepneys and buses during peak hours.

“Prohibiting [thousands of] jeepneys from plying their route next year will result in longer lines, longer wait and even inability of commuters to get transport to their work. Worse, the scarcity of public transport could result in more expensive fares for taxis and transport network vehicle services like Grab,” they said.

They added that more people would be forced to buy secondhand cars and motorcycles, resulting in heavier traffic and carbon emission in urban areas.

No more extensions

Intended to make the transport sector “dignified, humane, and on par with global standards,” the PUVMP was launched on June 19, 2017, by the DOTr through Department Order No. 2017-011.

The program has several components: fleet modernization, route rationalization, local public transport route planning, industry consolidation regulatory reform, and a vehicle useful life program.

Under the program, jeepney units 15 years old or older will be phased out and replaced by those with Euro 4 or electrically powered engines. Considered a modernized jeepney, it has features like GPS, an automated fare collection system, and a closed-circuit television camera.

In April, the LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular 2023-017, which gave PUV operators until Dec. 31 to join an existing consolidated entity, or else they would no longer be allowed to continue their operations.

For the DOTr and LTFRB, franchise consolidation would make it easier for PUV operators to secure loans for purchasing new units, facilitating route rationalization based on passenger demand, implementing a fixed salary scheme for drivers, and running their units “in a systematic and predictable manner.”

The original deadline for consolidation had been moved at least four times since December 2021.

But on Dec. 12, President Marcos said there would be no more extensions.

“Adhering to the current timeline ensures that everyone can reap the benefits of fully operationalizing our modernized public transport system. Hence, the scheduled timeline will not be moved,” he said.

“We cannot let the minority cause further delays, affecting the majority of our operators, banks, financial institutions, and the public at large,” the President said, adding that 70 percent of all transport operators had already committed to or consolidated under the PUVMP.

Various transport groups, including Piston and Manibela, had staged sporadic strikes in Metro Manila and other parts of the country since March to oppose the program with mixed results. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

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READ: Over 68,000 ‘no co-op’ PUVS may be deemed illegal Jan. 1

TAGS: jeepney, jeepney phaseout, PUV modernization program, Supreme Court

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