MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe has reminded the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that any form of phaseout of public utility vehicles (PUV) during the coronavirus pandemic is not allowed under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
During a hearing on the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) on Tuesday, Poe stressed that the law prohibits the issuance of memorandums that would essentially stop PUV drivers from plying the road during the pandemic when “support from the government is still lacking.”
The Senate Committee on Public Service, chaired by Poe, conducted the hearing 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.
“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 Chairperson Martin Delgra said that a total of 2,589 units have been modernized as of December 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, he added.
“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,” Poe said.
The senator said that data shows that around 100,000 PUV drivers and operators who will be displaced as a result of the PUVMP.
But Delgra 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.
“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,” said Poe.
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 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 make sure it’s compliant to the Anti-Red Tape Act.