LTFRB extends PUV franchise consolidation, but strike still on

THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has given individual operators of traditional jeepneys until Dec. 31, 2023, to join a cooperative or corporation for them to be granted a provisional authority for franchise or else they will no longer be allowed to operate.

In a press conference on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, LTFRB Chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III said they will be issuing a new memorandum circular for the extension of the public utility vehicle (PUV) franchise consolidation until the end of the year.

Guadiz said this is in response to the clamor of the transport sector, but he denied that the move was made to stop the looming one-week strike of PUV drivers and operators starting March 6.

“There is no pressure for us for this strike because more than 90 percent of the transport groups have signified their support for the program of the LTFRB,” Guadiz said.

“We will be extending the deadline to give the transport sector more time to consolidate,” he added.

Guadiz said they came up with the decision “in deference” to the Senate resolution seeking the postponement of the jeepney phaseout and the request of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista to give more time for the transport sector to consolidate.

Guadiz added that the decision to extend the deadline also came from a statement from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The LTFRB earlier approved Memorandum Circular 2023-013, indicating that individual operators of traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJs) will no longer be allowed to continue their operations after June 30, 2023 unless they join a cooperative or corporation, as part of the national government’s PUV Modernization Program.

The program is aimed at replacing old and traditional jeepneys with high-quality and environmentally friendly vehicles with bigger capacities.

Holiday still on

In a radio interview, Mar Valbuena, chairman of the transport group Manibela, said their week-long transport holiday will push through, which will be joined by around 40,000 traditional jeepneys and UV Express units.

“The transport holiday will continue because what they released is a deception, like we’re children given a piece of candy to taste, and we will already give in? It shouldn’t be like that,” he said in Tagalog.

Valbuena said they complied with the consolidation requirement but failed to meet the deadline. He added that by requiring them to join existing cooperatives, they now have to pay new membership fees.

“The consolidation of transport cooperatives was halted in 2021. We did not finish, so it’s back to zero now. If we want to join, we will have to follow a process again, but this time, with the cooperatives who earlier complied,” Valbuena said.

“Now, a memorandum circular has been released, asking us to join those who have already consolidated. Its implications? We will no longer be cooperatives. Our members will join existing cooperatives that have already complied. What will happen next? We will have to become members of those existing cooperatives, so there will be a membership fee again, another new expense. So the cost is doubled,” he added.

Valbuena said they are not against the phasing out of traditional jeepneys; however, acquiring a modern vehicle will take time and applying for a loan that the government offers is not easy.

Each modern jeepney costs around P2.7 million.

Cebu transport group

In Cebu, the chairman of major transport group Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative (Citrasco) welcomed the decision of the transportation office to extend the franchise of traditional public utility jeepneys.

“We welcome it because it is clear that there really aren’t enough public utility vehicles,” said Ryan Benjamin Yu Wednesday.

Yu lauded the actions of the LTFRB central office; however, he insinuated that the transport department’s regional office may have caused the delays in the approval of traditional jeepney drivers’ applications for a provisional authority to operate.

“Many here were not issued a provisional authority by our regional director. So what’s the effect of that extension if there is no provisional authority?” he said, referring to LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. (See separate story on page.)


Several Cebu traditional jeepney drivers have expressed opposition to the PUV Modernization Program. But asked if they are willing to join the transport strike against the modernization of public transportation, they said no.

Epifanio Moreno, 63, a jeepney driver since 1982, says there is no point in joining the strike when the authorities are already firm on their plan to phase out traditional jeepneys.

“Maglisod gyud nga mokontra. Unya tan-awon nimo nga alkansihon gyud,” said Moreno. (It will be hard to oppose that.)

Moreno, who has been plying the Urgello-Parkmall route, said he has no resources to join a “consolidated entity.”

Moreno said the unit he is driving does not belong to any cooperative.

Rey Tokong, a traditional jeepney driver for 13 years, is for modernization but despises the idea of joining a cooperative.

Tokong may not be for it, but he joined just to be able to continue his livelihood.

Transport groups have been vocal on their disagreement, saying that modernization is anti-poor because it calls for the purchase of multimillion-peso worth of modern jeepneys.

In Central Visayas, there are still a number of traditional jeepney drivers who are not part of any “consolidated entity,” which are in danger of being prohibited from operating.

Last week, LTFRB 7 chief transportation development officer Reynaldo Elnar said only around 80 percent of the drivers and operators in Cebu have been consolidated.

Last Feb. 21, Montealto Jr. told SunStar Cebu that there are around 2,000 traditional jeepneys plying Cebu roads, while there are only 1,214 modern PUVs. (SunStar Philippines)