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Striking a fair deal

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Jeepney and UV Express operators ended their planned week-long transport strike protesting the phase out of traditional public utility vehicles, after President Marcos Jr. agreed to study the revision of the PUV modernization program that is at the crux of the protests.

“[T]o start the discourse, our group decided to suspend the transport strike alongside Piston and go back to servicing commuters starting [Wednesday],” said Manibela president Mar Valbuena on Tuesday night.

“We will hold President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos to his word, that his administration is open to study and revise the implementation of the PUV modernization program to keep the livelihood of PUV drivers and operators,” he added.

Valbuena referred to their call to fully suspend the implementation of the Department of Transportation’s Department Order 2017-011 which defines the rules and requirements of the PUVMP, alongside Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Memorandum Circular 2023-013. This orders individual operators of traditional jeepneys to stop operations should they fail to join a cooperative by December 31, 2023, a deadline that was extended after the strike was threatened.

Joining a coop supposedly allows individuals to purchase modernized jeepneys, which are basically minibuses that cost over P2 million each.

The striking groups say they are not against modernization. They just want it to be done humanely and justly so no one gets left behind.

Under the president’s directives, the DOTr and LTFRB shall conduct a “thorough consultation” towards a better implementation of the PUVMP, while prioritizing drivers, operators and commuters.

It was obvious from the beginning that all parties were in agreement that modernization is necessary. But because of poor execution by all stakeholders, who waited till the last possible moment before springing into action, the week-long strike was deemed necessary by the side that felt the most disadvantaged by what should’ve been a well-meaning and long overdue program.

Now that both parties are finally talking about the revisions that have become necessary due to their lack of action as the deadline approached, the Filipino people are hoping that those responsible for the upgrade of the country’s public transportation sector can settle on a reasonable roadmap that will bring the Philippines to the same destination, without the burden of mistrust and confusion that is making this endeavor more difficult that it already is.*

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