By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said the moratorium on the apprehension of traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJ) in the city was extended.
The moratorium, which was supposed to end today, Nov 23, 2022, was implemented after traditional PUJ operators mounted a transport strike against the PUJ modernization program of the government.
Benitez said the agreement was reached after a meeting with representatives of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Tuesday.
Traditional PUJ operators, meanwhile, agreed not to hold a transport strike.
The traditional PUJ operators also agreed to upgrade to the modern version of the PUJ, but under the condition that they can operate as sole proprietors instead of joining a cooperative or a corporation.
The group has also been demanding a cheaper version of the modernized PUJs.
But some traditional PUJ operators led by transport leader Diego Malacad are still threatening to go on strike Wednesday as they are not satisfied with the outcome of the talks.
Malacad said there was no assurance that they will not be apprehended for lack of franchise and failure to follow the modernization program.
Malacad said they have already informed the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), the Diocese of Bacolod’s Social Action Center, and the various schools, colleges, and universities in the city to prepare.
“Kung wala [concrete] assurance nga indi kami pag dakpon, then effective at 12 midnight ma untat na kami biyahe, kay indi namun pag i-dare ang P300 nga income sa P120,000 nga multa,” Malacad said.
Earlier, Malacad accused the local LTO and LTFRB of “isolating and bullying” their sector, pointing out that under Republic Act (RA) 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, as well as RA 11494 or the Bayanihan Law, and the resolution released by LTFRB central office, all traditional PUJs can still operate until September 2023.
Various traditional PUJ operators and drivers in the city have camped out earlier this month outside the Bacolod City Government Center after the LTO and LTFRB began apprehending PUJs which are operating with either incomplete or expired franchise documents.
The LTO in Bacolod, meanwhile, said that they will stop apprehending PUJs operating with expired franchise permits, although they will still operate and penalize any PUJs that are traveling without the certificate of registration and official receipt, which could result in fines up to P20,000.