Manibela rejects PUVMP, deadlines

Manibela rejects PUVMP, deadlines

TRANSPORT group Manibela, one of the leading protesters against the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), will never be content with merely extending the franchise consolidation deadline.

Speaking to BusinessWorld on Thursday, Manibela president Mar Valbuena made it clear: “What we are lobbying for is the extension of our franchise and provisional authority to ply our jeepney units even without consolidating.”

The group’s statement is in response to Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” L. Pimentel III’s proposal for a six-month to one-year deferral and indefinite suspension of the PUVMP, which mandates consolidation into cooperatives or corporations by Dec. 31, 2023, for modern PUV unit franchises.

The Supreme Court petition by transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) argues, among others, that this mandate infringes on the constitutional right to freedom of association, rendering it unconstitutional.

In a press briefing this week, Mr. Pimentel also called for the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to transparently disclose contractors and suppliers of imported modern PUV units. Labor groups, including the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and Partido Manggagawa (PM), urged prioritizing locally made options in modernizing PUV units, citing economic and constitutional considerations.

“It is already given that we should prioritize cheaper and locally made options,” PM chairman Rene Magtubo said.

The government’s one-month grace period for non-consolidating jeepneys indicates, according to PM, that the government is unprepared for the consequences of the modernization plan. The DoTr reported that only 40% of Metro Manila’s jeepneys and approximately 70% nationwide have consolidated their franchises under the PUVMP. — Jomel R. Paguian