Transport operators behind strike in Western Visayas may lose franchises
ILOILO CITY — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Western Visayas is cracking down on operators of public utility vehicles (PUVs) who joined a two-day strike that crippled public transport in most of the region early this week.
LTFRB Western Visayas director Richard Osmeña said he would soon issue show-cause orders to all operators who joined the strike, requiring them explain why their franchises should not be canceled.
“Going on strike is a violation of their franchise,” Osmeña told the Philippine Daily inquirer.
He said his office has been waiting for reports of monitoring conducted by the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group on PUVs that did not ply their routes from June 5 to 6.
Transport groups in the region held the strike to protest the planned phaseout of PUVs at least 15 years old.
The phaseout is part of a modernization program to eliminate vehicles with engines that contribute to air pollution.
But transport groups are instead pushing the government to rehabilitate the old PUVs because they believe the phaseout will severely affect the livelihood of small operators and the drivers.
Osmeña said show-cause orders would be issued for operators of vehicles that were monitored through their license plates or photographs.
“We will give them due process and a chance to explain,” he said.
He said PUV operators had repeatedly joined strikes even if these actions violated a condition in the issuance of a franchise because they were never made to account for their violation of the law.
PUVs in the province and city of Iloilo alone number close to 6,000.
Edgar Salarda, spokesperson of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide in Panay, said at least 95 percent of PUVs did not ply their routes for two days during the strike.
“We will hold protest actions before the LTFRB regional office if they will do this,” Salarda said.
He said the threat to cancel the franchise of operators was part of efforts to stop “mounting protest” against the planned phaseout of PUVs.
“If the phaseout will be implemented, operators will no longer need their franchise anyway. We have no choice,” Salarda said. SFM
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