‘#NoToJeepneyPhaseout’ trends on X ahead of December 31 consolidation deadline

December 29, 2023 - 5:53 PM
Transport strike
Members of the transport groups PISTON and MANIBELA march from Welcome Rotonda to Chino Roces bridge on Dec. 29, 2023 as part of their protest against the mandatory franchise consolidation deadline by the end of the month. (The Philippine STAR/Edd Gumban)

The hashtag “#NoToJeepneyPhaseout” landed on the top Philippine trends list of the X platform on the last working day of the week as the deadline for the franchise consolidation of public utility vehicles (PUV) looms.

December 31 is the deadline that the government has set for PUV vehicles like jeepneys and UV express to consolidate into corporations or cooperatives under its PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP).

The government said that these cooperatives would enable transport workers to acquire loans that will help them afford eco-friendly e-jeeps or minibuses powered by Euro IV-compliant engines that could cost up to P2.8 million each.

PUVs, including traditional jeepneys, that fail to consolidate by Jan. 1, 2024 will have their franchises revoked.

The move is reported to affect the livelihood of 140,000 jeepney and UV Express drivers, excluding 60,000 operators.

The government said that the PUVMP aims to “transform the public transport system” to make it “more dignified, humane, and on par with global standards.”

However, the cost of modernized public transport vehicles has concerned transport workers who find the prices steep in consideration of their wages.

Jeepney drivers and operators also said the PUVMP will deprive single-unit operators of route franchises that will go to big corporations and transport cooperatives.

However, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that cooperatives would allow operators easier access to funds, especially when applying for loans for modern jeeps.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) also said that unconsolidated PUV operators will be allowed to operate until Jan. 31, 2024 if there are only less than 60% of the number of authorized units plying certain routes.

Such routes would be determined by the LTFRB board.

Despite this, clamor for the government to halt the PUVMP made its way online as Filipinos made the hashtag “#NoToJeepneyPhaseout” trend on the X platform on Friday.

Rep. Raoul Manuel of the Kabataan party-list was among those who tweeted the phrase after seeing a video of a jeepney driver who said they would save their Media Noche items for hard times instead of consuming them now.

“NAKAKADUROG NG PUSO! Lalo na at alam nating hindi ito basta-basta nangyari. May mga taong nagpasya na mangyari ito: LTFRB, DoTr at si Marcos Jr! #NoToJeepneyPhaseout,” he wrote.

Others shared their apprehensions over the PUVMP, noting that they would have to pay higher minimum fares once modern jeeps replace the traditional ones.

“Pls. #NoToJeepneyPhaseout, #NoToPUVPhaseout, #IbasuraAngDeadline. Looban ‘yung tinitirhan ko since private subdivision and pataas lugar namin,” a user wrote.

“[Trike] sa’min is around P60-100 kasi looban daw. If mawala jeep sa’min na fare ko is P12.  Grabe ‘yung taas ng babayaran ko para lang makauwi,” the user added.

“Forty pesos is already my jeepney fare back and forth going [to university], and for it to be the fare for one ride is insanely expensive for everyone, especially for students and employed people who doesn’t have personal vehicles. #NoToJeepneyPhaseout,” another Pinoy wrote.

The Gabriela Women’s Party also used the hashtag and posted infographics that detail reasons why many Filipinos oppose the PUVMP.

According to Gabriela, reasons include steep costs of the modernized vehicles, potentially higher minimum fares of up to P34 and foreign businesses having to profit from the program instead of Filipinos.

The Inclusive Cities Advocacy Network (ICAN) also released its own infographics which detail why commuters should be concerned about the PUVMP.

ICAN said that the modernization program will “create a massive transport crisis due to the government’s willingness to privatize public transportation and gain profit from it.”

It also said that the program would “pass the financial burden to transport workers and commuters,” referring to the money that PUV drivers have to shell out to pay for the modernized unit and the potential rise of minimum fares.

The government said it would provide a subsidy of P180,000 for operators who will upgrade to modern jeeps, but transport groups said it is not enough since the modern units cost millions.

As of Friday, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that jeepney drivers may avail of its Assistance to Individual in Crisis Situations (AICS) program, which gives financial aid to people “in crisis.”

The DSWD said it is a one-time financial aid wherein the amount may vary.

It added that the assistance is a temporary relief so the jeepney drivers’ basic needs could be met.

LTFRB Board Member Mercy Paras-Leyne said that the board is pushing for the consolidation so they could “focus” on other components of the PUVMP like financing.

“‘Yung industry consolidation is just the first component ng programa. So, may mga ibang components katulad ng mga financing na gusto natin i-improve, pero ang lahat ng efforts natin ngayon ay nakatutok pa doon sa industry consolidation,” she said.