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HomeDNX FocusDNX Focus | In Welga Country: Old jeepney operators "resistant" to modernization...

DNX Focus | In Welga Country: Old jeepney operators “resistant” to modernization plan since the start

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Editors Note: The recent crackdown of public transport regulation agencies has led to a slowdown of operations of old jeepneys in Bacolod City. Most of these old jeeoneys have no franchises to ply their routes and, operators admit, were kept off the streets to avoid the impoundment of units and the hefty fines.

DNX takes a look at the issues surrounding the recent news and why this is relatrd to the State program to modernize mass transportation.

(Part one of a series)

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Activist transport grouos here used to ground public transportation to a halt in the 80s and well into the 90s, an organized show of force that has made transport leaders among the most influential non government leaders in the province.

Since the Marcos I presidency, the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC) could halt public transport almost totally as part of the WeBa or Welgang Bayan or “people’s strikes” called for by activist groups.

Things have changed, however, starting under the Duterte government that rolled out a transport modernization plan and also unleashed a renewed counterinsurgency campaign that, critics claimed, targetted even urban-based legal organizations.

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Today, as officials here dialog with operators and drivers of old jeepney federations, the issue over the modernization program comes into focus once more and why old jeepney operators are blaming government again for failing to renew their franchises.

“That is erroneous,” lawyer Salvador “Jun” Altura Jr, said when asked to react on claims of old jeep operators that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory is to blame for their expired franchises.

Diego Malacad, secretary general of activist transport federation Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Natiinwide (PISTON) had repeatedly accused the LTFRB of refusing to approve applications for franchise renewals of several operators here.

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Malacad, however, has not made it clear that old jeepneys cannot renew their franchises anymore under the modernization plan spelled out under a Department of Transportation order in 2017, a year after President Duterte was elected to Malacanang.

That year also marked the split between Duterte and the Left, both its open and underground formations, that separately announced support in vatious levels and forms to Duterte.

THE START IN 2017

When the Department of Transportation (DoTr) rolled out the five-year modernization plan in 2017 with the release of the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines summer of 2017, it did not take long for the Left to react.

On 19 June 2017, the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) led a protest caravan on the day Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade signed the OFG.

The OFG was the first step that would lead to local governments coming up with their own Local Transport Route Plans that would lead to the consolidation of routes and the setting up of cooperatives.

Route consolidation, Transport officials have pointed out, will lead to better fleet management of modern jeepneys amd better services.

(To be continued)

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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