NAGA CITY --- Over 8,000 jeepney operators and drivers in the Bicol region continue to remain without livelihood as a result of the policy of the Department of Transportation (DoTR) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) not to issue a special permit unless the operators group themselves into a cooperative or a corporation, a transport group here said.
Ramon Rescovilla, Bicol secretary general of Concerned Drivers and Operators-Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Condor Piston), said the DoTR and LTFRB are using the Covid-19 crisis to push the jeepney modernization program.
He said this modernization program will only benefit big and rich corporations whose aim is control the transport sector.
Rescovilla slammed LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2020-17 requiring jeepney operators to apply for a special permit online before they can operate during the community quarantine period.
Under paragraph 5 of the LTFRB circular, public utility vehicles (PUV) seeking a special permit must comply with the following: a. have a valid franchise CPC be currently registered and with a valid
existing personal passenger accident insurance; b. pass the roadworthy inspection to be conducted by the LTO; and c. be included among the authorized units owned by a judicial entity such as a cooperative or corporation.
He said jeepney operators are facing difficulties in complying with these requirements as majority of them are not members of cooperatives or corporations. Because of these, we did not push through with our application for special permit.
Rescovilla said they are against the jeepney modernization because they do not want to consolidate themselves into a corporation, as rich businessmen will control the group in line with the government’s plan to eliminate small individual operators.
We are willing to follow the minimum health standards required by the circular such as physical distancing of passengers, however, the requirements of forming a cooperative or corporation will eventually eliminate our livelihood. Our theme song for now is “Killing me softly,” he said.
He said that in Sorsogon province, jeepney drivers tried to operate after the general community quarantine (GCQ) was lifted on May 16. Their request for special permits were denied and they were apprehended by enforcers of the Land Transporation Office (LTO) and the Highway Patrol Group (HPG).
Ramon Alca, president of the Sorsogon Jeepney Federation, decried this incident and eventually the group decided to stop their operation.
Rescovilla said that his group and other transport organizations will petition concerned authorities to allow them to operate sans the strict requirements of the LTFRB circular.
According to LTFRB Bicol acting regional director Edgardo Montialto, they have already issued 12 special permits for public utility buses plying the Naga-Legazpi route as of May 18.