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On Labor Day: Various groups slam PUVMP implementation

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• CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

About 1,000 public utility jeepneys in Bacolod City flooded Araneta Street during the culmination of their 2-day transport strike, seeking extension of the franchise consolidation under the PUV Modernization Program* CGS photo

Former Bayan Muna representative Ferdinand Gaite yesterday called on public utility drivers and operators to oppose the PUV Modernization Program of the government, during a program in celebration of International Labor Day at the Bacolod City Diamond Jubilee Tower along Araneta-Gonzaga streets, Bacolod City.

“We also condemn the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for pushing the program that will result to the phasing out of small public utility jeepneys, as well as other transport groups, like private vans and tricycles,” he said in support of the drivers.

Gaite said the drivers are not the only ones who will be affected but also the commuting public. So they are calling for the junking of the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP).

Former Bayan Muna representative Ferdinand Gaite called on public utility jeepney drivers and operators to junk the PUV Modernization Program and condemned the administration of PBBM for pushing the program* CGSamillano photo

Bayan Muna has filed a case before the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the PUVMP because this will definitely violate the rights of the drivers on their franchise. The program will cancel their franchise, which is a source of their livelihood to operate small transport systems.

More than 1,000 traditional jeepneys under the Kabacod Negros Transport Coalition (KNETCO) flooded Araneta Street in Bacolod City, during the culmination of the second day of their transport strike yesterday, seeking the extension of franchise consolidation under the PUV Modernization Program.

KNETCO president Lilian Sembrano said they held a noise barrage and lighted their cellphones after the Labor Day program at the Bacolod City Diamond Jubilee Tower, as a symbol of hope that their demands reaches the President, the Senate, and Congress, and that the Lower House would be pressured to call for a fifth PUV motu proprio investigation on the jeepney modernization program, which was already considered unconstitutional during its investigation.

Sembrano said that despite being threatened that they can no longer operate after the April 30 consolidation deadline, they will continue to service commuters starting today as a sign of protest for the restoration of their 5-year franchise.

They are not against the PUV Modernization program but are against the consolidation of their franchise. A true modernization program will not leave anyone behind, she said.

They will only join the PUV Modernization program if there is transparent transaction and if the units will be affordable to the drivers and operators and not leave them drowning in debt, Sembrano said.

Meanwhile, Gaite said most workers who can only afford to take a jeepney to travel to work will be affected if these units are phased out since the cost of their transportation expense will be higher.

Gaite said that since the government has no alternative solution, it should push for a comprehensive, mass-oriented, affordable, efficient mass transport system.

On the other hand, the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) expressed its profound support to the Filipino workers’ struggle for living and decent wages, job security, and economic and democratic upliftment, during the celebration of the International Labor Day yesterday.

The group also conveyed their stand with the jeepney drivers and small operators who are foregoing their three days’ worth of wages, and stark net earnings from “boundaries” of jeepney rental in order to voice out their demands to end the unjust phaseout of traditional jeepney units under what they called the government’s fake modernization program.*

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