• The modernization deadline has been extended to June 30, but transport groups want five years more
  • Valbuena said drivers of 40,000 old jeepneys and UV Express units will join the nationwide strike
  • The DOTr has called on transport groups to discuss the matter first before holding a strike

Transportation group Manibela and two other associations announced their plans to stage a week-long strike to protest the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board's (LTFRB) circular, which stated traditional jeepneys should be phased out by June 30.

"In suppressing our rights, we will counter with a week-long transportation strike," Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said during a Monday press briefing, the Inquirer reported.

Valbuena warned the strike will begin on March 6 "if the LTFRB does not withdraw its deadline, a one-week strike nationwide, especially here in Metro Manila."

Manibela wants the LTFRB to extend the phaseout deadline of traditional jeepneys by at least five more years. The transportation authority initially set the expiry of the franchise of traditional jeepneys to the end of March nationwide. Only Metro Manila's franchise expiry was initially set to end in April.

LTFRB has since extended the deadline to the end of June 2023, but Valbuena said jeepney drivers and operators are already struggling with operational costs apart from the expenses that go with organizing themselves into cooperatives--as required under the government's jeepney modernization plan.

Valbuena also said Monday that drivers of 40,000 traditional jeepneys and UV Express units across Metro Manila will be part of the strike, while Manibela members in provincial areas have yet to confirm whether they will also hold a strike or not, as per The Manila Times.

Aside from Manibela, transport groups Laban TNVS and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) also said they would join the week-long strike, according to the Philippine Star.

"It is no joke that a driver who spent years abroad just to buy a single unit of traditional jeepney only for it to be banned," Piston member Almario Lopez said.

The groups also warned they would pursue a Supreme Court case and seek a temporary restraining order, adding that the commuting public will experience a transport crisis if the LTFRB pushes for the June 30 deadline.

The LTFRB said around 50,000 traditional jeepneys have yet to comply with the government's modernization plan.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation chief Jaime Bautista urged transport groups to have a dialogue with concerned transport officials before staging their strike as the move could stunt the nationwide transport system, GMA News reported.

"We should think first about stopping the transport operations. We should discuss this first. Let's understand what the issues are because maybe we just don't understand each other," Bautista said.

Bautista the government will not ask operators or owners of old jeepney units to modernize if they are operating in areas where equipment for modernization is impossible.

The Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program aims to transform Philippine transportation into using more climate-friendly and improved vehicles.

Philippines jeepneys
Traditional jeepneys in the Philippines. gloverbh222/Pixabay