PISTON urges drivers to defy ban on jeepneys

The Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) called on jeepney drivers and operators to continue plying their routes in defiance of the government’s deadline on franchise consolidation.

On the first day of the New Year and prohibition of operation of unconsolidated jeepneys, the transport group urged fellow transport workers to claim their right to livelihood for their families and commuters.

“Public transportation is a public service that should serve the people and not the few. Let is claim our right to the roads. Let us hold accountable the incompetent, oppressive and puppet [Ferdinand] Marcos Jr. regime accountable,” PISTON said in a New Year statement.

Several jeepneys were seen still plying their routes along Commonwealth Avenue and Pasig City poblacion in the morning of 20024’s first working day Tuesday, January 2.

Traffic had been light and passenger numbers have sparse on both locations, Kodao observed.

PISTON warned that a public transport disaster would befall major cities once commuters start returning to their jobs or schools.

Transport authorities on the other hand sought to downplay the effects of the banning of traditional jeepneys on the roads saying they are open to extending permits as long as operators commit to surrendering their individual franchises to transport cooperatives or corporations.

PISTON said the government Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) is only aimed at handing over their livelihood to local and foreign capitalists.

The group added the PUVMP will result in higher fares for commuters and lower incomes for drivers and operators who will likewise incur huge debts.

New vehicles approved under the program cost around P2.5 million. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PISTON to SC: Expedite petition to suspend jeepney consolidation deadline

Militant drivers and operators urged the Supreme Court to expedite the decision on their petition for a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the year-end jeepney franchise consolidation deadline.

In a supplemental motion, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) said the suspension of the deadline shall prevent the “grave and irreparable injury” the jeepney drivers and operators, their families, the commuters and the public in general will likely suffer at the start of the new year.

“[M]illions of drivers, operators and their families, as well as commuters all over the country will experience a severe impact on their income and livelihood should the franchise of thousands of PUV operators be cancelled on January 1, 2024,” PISTON added.

The group filed the initial petition before Christmas against the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) that orders the surrender of individual franchises to cooperatives and corporations by December 31.

PISTON argues the consolidation scheme only aims to take away the livelihood of jeepney owners and operators in favor of corporations and big businessmen.

“Hundreds of thousands of citizens are affected, will lose their livelihoods, will be buried in debt or will have serious problems with additional expenses,” PISTON national president Mody Floranda said.

Bayan Muna and NUPL lawyers filed last Thursday an Extremely Urgent Motion at the Supreme Court on the petition of PISTON and commuters for a restraining order against PUV consolidation and cancellation of franchise. (Bayan Muna photo)

PISTON likewise warned that so-called modern jeepneys will increase basic fares to around P40-P50 once the PUVMP goes into full effect.

“No matter how you look at it, this bogus modernization brings nothing good to the people,” Floranda said.

In a statement Thursday, December 28, however, the Supreme Court declined to immediately issue a decision to PISTON’s original petition and instead  ordered the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB) to reply within 10 days.

DoTr secretary Jaime Bautista meanwhile claimed that “majority” of jeepney operators support the program with 70% already participating in the process.

The December 31 franchise consolidation deadline stays, Bautista declared.

PISTON however belied Bautista’s claims, citing an Inclusive Cities Advocacy Network study saying 73% of Metro Manila’s traditional jeepneys will be disqualified from modernization.

Floranda also criticized LTFRB’s announcement it will give out temporary permits to jeepney operators on some routes after January 1 if they commit to have their franchise consolidated.

“That proposal is just a stopgap measure. Eventually, those who bought temporary permits will also be affected by the phase out. This proves that the whole program is a failure,” Floranda said.

PISTON and fellow transport organization Manibela are set to stage a rally at Malacanang today, Friday, following a solidarity lunch at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.

(PISTON infographic)

The groups said the impending transport crisis is ultimately President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s fault for his refusal to suspend the PUVMP.

PISTON also announced the success of Thursday’s transport strike in Davao City that paralyzed some routes in Mindanao’s main metropolis. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Jeepney strike paralyzes major Metro routes

PISTON says Marcos misleads public with 70% consolidation claim

Striking jeepney drivers and small operators declared a 90% paralysis of major routes in the National Capital Region on the first day of their to-day protest action against the abolition of their livelihood.

Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) also said 85% of several regions outside of the capital have also been paralyzed, forcing Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III to hold a dialogue with their leaders.

“We found out [from Guadiz] it is Bongbong Marcos who is pushing for consolidation of jeepney franchises on December 31. Now we know who to blame,” PISTON said in a statement.

The group also said President Marcos blatantly misled the public when he said that 70% of all jeepney franchises have already been consolidated under the government’s Public Utility Vehicles Modernization Program (PUVMP).

“Let their data speak for itself. There are 64,639 unconsolidated units nationwide, 30,862 of which are PUJs (public utility jeepneys) and 4,852 UV (utility vehicle) Express units in NCR,” PISTON said.

“This amounts to an estimated 60,000 PUJ drivers and 9,000 UV Express drivers; 25,000 PUJ operators; and 4,000 UV Express operators in NCR alone,” the group added.

Commuters along Commonwealth Avenue waiting for rides. (PISTON photo)

PISTON said Marcos’ decision to ban jeepneys and other forms of public transportation such as UV Express vans would result in a transport crisis starting January 1, 2024.

Major areas of Metro Manila saw a marked decrease in the number of plying public utility vehicles on the road on Thursday.

PISTON said their strike affected routes from Commonwealth in Quezon City in the north, Pasig in the east, Manila in the west, to Alabang in Muntinlupa in the south of the metropolis.

Longer commuter queue at the Pasig Central Market area. (PISTON photo)

Local government units and the Metro Manila Development Authority fielded hundred of buses throughout the metropolis, even as they sought to downplay the effect of the strike.


Meanwhile, various groups expressed solidarity with the strikers such as the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Concerned Seafarers of the Philippines, Rural Women’s Advocates, and even the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).

“ICHRP supports the call of drivers and operators to junk the PUVMP, and instead push for a genuinely pro-people modernization program, by supporting the development of the local jeepney manufacturing industry,” ICHRP chairperson Peter Murphy in a statement said.

Various groups also joined PISTON members in their overnight vigil in front of the LTFRB headquarters in Quezon City Thursday night. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Opposing jeepney abolition

“I declare my solidarity with the jeepney drivers. Ownership of their vehicles gives them dignity and selfworth. I also think that the jeepney is a part of our culture. So let us oppose its abolition!”—Mo. Mary John Mananzan, OSB (nun, educator, activist)

Image by Jo Maois Mamangun

Strike immobilizes jeepney routes in Metro Manila, regional centers nationwide

The ongoing jeepney strike immobilized jeepney routes in Metro Manila and several regions nationwide by as much as 100 percent, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) reported.

Despite threats of punishment by the government, the nationwide protest action against the phaseout of the iconic jeepney failed to deter drivers and small operators who also trooped to Mendiola in Manila to protest the government’s controversial modernization program of public utility vehicles.

PISTON said Cubao-San Juan,Cubao-Divisoria, Malolos (Bulacan)-San Fernando (Pampanga), Jollibee Molino, Alabang-Zapote, Marcos-Alvarez, Sangandaan-Pajo-Divisoria, and the Zobel Roxas- Paco jeepney routes have been 100% paralyzed starting 7AM.

The group added that Cubao-Quiapo, Kalaw-Proj. 2&3, Navotas-Divisoria-Recto-Monumento-Malabon,Pateros-Pasig, Paliparan-Zapote, Bagong Silangan (Quezon City) and Sta. Rosa in Laguna is also completely paralyzed.

Dozens of other routes in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and several cities in the Visayas have also participated in the strike, mostly by PISTON members.

Few jeepneys are seen plying their routes in major routes around Metro Manila such as Commonwealth Avenue, C5, and Rizal Province.

The Department of Transportation earlier warned the strikers that they will face both administrative and criminal sanctions, including the revocation of their license.

Transport group Manibela initiated the protest by announcing last week a five-day transport strike that PISTON decided to support.

Both Manibela and PISTON are demanding President Ferdinand Marcos’ Jr.’s revocation of DoTr’s public transport modernization guidelines mandating small operators to surrender their franchises to cooperatives and big businesses.

In a bid to prevent today’s transport strike, the DoTr has moved the deadline of the phaseout from June 31 to December 31, to no avail.

PISTON national president Mody Floranda earlier explained that the transport strike is their only way of being heard by the government.

Floranda said that while they are not opposing the modernization of the country’s public transport system, it should not come at the expense of the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of jeepney drivers and small operators.

The ongoing strike is the largest since the start of the pandemic in 2020. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PISTON announces support of transport strike next week

A major national federation expressed support for the week-long transport strike next week announced by drivers’ group Manibela starting Monday, March 6.

The Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) said it is ready to back the strike against the phase out of public utility vehicles (PUV) like jeepneys and the compulsory transport franchise consolidation by the government.

“Pinakikita lamang nito na handang makipaglaban ang iba’t ibang samahan para pigilan ang sapilitang franchise consolidation at PUV phaseout na patuloy na itinutulak ng gobyerno. Handang protektahan ng mga tsuper at maliliit na operator ang kanilang kabuhayan dahil buhay ng pamilya nila ang nakasalalay rito lalo sa panahon ngayon ng matinding krisis sa ekonomiya,” PISTON national president Mody Floranda said.

(This shows that several organizations are willing to fight to stop the forced consolidation and PUV phaseout being pushed by the government. Drivers and small operators are ready to defend their livelihood especially in this very hard up times.)

PISTON ready to back planned transport strike against PUV phaseout, compulsory franchise consolidation

PISTON explained that mandating operators to consolidate their individual franchises under a cooperative or corporation is “wrong, deceitful, and coercive” as it deprives operators of their rights and privileges as individual franchise holders.

It added that only big corporations with single consolidated franchises have the financial capacity to purchase and fully comply with the current PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) schemes.

“Kapag nag-consolidate ka ng prangkisa sa ilalim ng isang kooperatiba o korporasyon, sinusurender mo yung karapatan mo sa indibidwal mong prangkisa. Sa oras na di ka makabayad sa napakamahal na halaga ng modernization, wala ka nang babalikan dahil pinilit kang isuko ang prangkisa mo,” explained Floranda.

(If a small operator agrees to a consolidation under a cooperative or corporation, he gives up his single-ownership franchise. If it turns out that he could not afford to pay the very expsensive modernization schemes, he could no longer go back to his livelihood.)

The transport leader added that the lost franchises shall then be sold by the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board to large corporations who can afford the imported mini-buses the government wants to ply the roads.

In response to the transport strike announced on Monday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that the department is “giving enough ample time to transport groups to muster enough funds to buy new units” in order to comply with the government’s PUV modernization program.

PISTON said DOTr’s statement is a clear admission that their imported “modern” mini-busses are indeed unaffordable to small operators and drivers.

PISTON said the government must first implement a just transition program by supporting local manufacturers and allowing the rehabilitation and overhauling of traditional jeepneys to carry cleaner and environmentally sound engines.

It added that this will not only save small-time operators money, it can also further develop our local industries and create more domestic jobs.

“Bakit ba kating-kati ang gobyerno ni Marcos Jr na mag-import nang mag-import para palitan ang mga lokal nating jeepney at paglaruan ang buhay ng maralitang Pilipino? Sino ba talaga ang gusto nilang paunlarin? Malinaw na hindi ang mga Pilipino,” Floranda said.

(Why is the government so adamant about the importation of new vehicles to replace our local jeepneys? They are playing with the lives of poor Filipinos. Who are they trying to enrich? It is clearly not the Filipinos.)

Meanwhile, Manibela president Mar Valbuena shot down suggestions of a dialogue between his group, the DOTR and other transport groups opposed to the transport strike.

In a radio interview, Valbuena said the DOTr must first shut up its “dogs” in the transport industry who first benefitted in the modernization scheme by cornering new transport routes and benefitting from government loan programs to buy new vehicles.

In supporting transport strike, Floranda told Kodao that PISTON will join Manibela rallies wherever they will be held.

He added that PISTON is still in the process of determining which of its chapters nationwide would be able to hold transport strikes in support of Manibela. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)