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PUV modernization program still a go as QC court junks TRO petition

MANILA — The implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) modernization program will push through after a Quezon City trial court denied the petition of protesting militant transport groups.

QC Regional Trial Court Branch 80 denied Monday the motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed by Angat Tsuper Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator ng Pilipinas – Genuine Organization Inc. (Stop & Go) against the implementation of Department Order No. ‎2017-011, known as the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG), issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) last June 19, 2017.

DOTr Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Procurement Reinier Paul Yebra said the granting of a certificate of public convenience to PUV operators is not a right but a privilege subject under the police powers of the government through the DOTr and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

“There is no urgency and irreparable injury that will justify issuance of the TRO as the target roll-out and full implementation of the PUV Modernization Program is still in 2018, and that LTFRB has not yet issued the necessary Memorandum Circulars as basis of specific implementation schedules,” Yebra said in a statement.

Under the OFG, reforms are introduced in granting of franchises by implementing new route planning rules and improved standards for operators and vehicles.

It also states that local government units would plan public transport routes based on the current and projected travel patterns in their respective areas.

These routes will be contained in the Local Public Transport Route Plan of LGUs which will serve as LTFRB’s basis for franchise issuance.

The OFG has paved way for the lifting of the moratorium on the acceptance of new applications and petitions for the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience because of irregularities in the granting of franchises implemented since 2003.

The PUV Modernization Program seeks to provide safe, comfortable and environmentally sustainable mode of public transport to commuters. It also aims to phase out old and dilapidated PUVs.

Franchised units should either be powered by Euro 4 engines or electrically powered engines with solar panels for roofs.

Other proposed specifications include closed-circuit television cameras, a GPS navigation system, an Automatic Fare Collection System, speed limiters, dashboard cameras, and Wi-Fi.

The DOTr has likewise coordinated with the DOF, DTI, government financial institutions and private banks to implement a special loan facility that would provide PUV operators and drivers low equity, low interest rates and longer payment periods.

Under the program, small operators can consolidate to pool their resources, meet minimum credit requirements and share the cost of operations and maintenance. Drivers would also have monthly salary and benefits, as well as reduced working hours.(PNA)

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