Metro Manila drivers join protest-caravan vs higher fines-A A +A
Thursday, June 19, 2014
AROUND 400 members of several transport groups in Metro Manila on Thursday joined the protest-caravan against the implementation of higher fines and stiffer penalties against unauthorized public utility vehicles (PUVs).
Drivers and operators are protesting the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01 or the Revised Schedule of Fines and Penalties for Violations of Laws, Rules and Regulations Governing Land Transportation of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).
Under the new schedule, "colorum" or out-of-line buses without a franchise will pay P1 million from the present P6,000 penalty for the first offense, while colorum trucks and vans will be fined P200,000; jeepneys, P50,000; P120,000 for sedans; and for motorcycles, P6,000.
From Quezon City Memorial Circle, members of the Alliance of Concern Transport Organization (ACTO), Federation Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap) and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) went to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) office in East Avenue in Quezon City and at the DOTC office in Ortigas Center in Pasig City to protest the government's implementation of JAO.
ACTO national president Efren De Luna said the higher fines is just a "money making scheme" of the government.
"Lalala lang ang kaso ng pangongotong kasi 'yung mga driver imbis na magbayad ng multa sa mga ahensya, maglalagay nalang dun sa mga nanghuhuli sa kanila," he said.
"Ginawa na din nila yan dati sabi nila para ayusin ang mga trapiko. May nangyare ba? Dapat 'yung enforcer mismo na nasa gitna ng kalsada ang umaayos ng traffic," De Luna added.
De Luna said JAO was not formally introduced to the transport groups.
"'Yung sinasabi nilang may public consultation, oo meron, half day ang kaso parang nagkabiglaan naman na kasi nandun na din 'yung mga signatories para ma-implement 'yun (JAO)," he said.
"Uso naman sa pamahalaan ngayon 'yung pinapakita nalang nila kung ano gusto nilang gawin," he added.
De Luna insisted that it was not a transport strike but a caravan to call the attention of the government.
The said protest-caravan affected thousands of commuters within and outside the Metro Manila.
"Malaking abala, ang hirap sumakay kasi pero at the same time okay na rin ito atleast madidisiplina ang mga pasaway na driver at luluwag ang trapiko," Amelia Lopez, a commuter from Bulacan, said.
Lopez said that commuting from Bulacan to her office in Quezon City only takes her an hour and a half, however, on Thursday it took her three hours.
"I was here (UV express terminal) at around 7 (a.m.) and now it's already 9 a.m. and I’m still here," she said.
Baste, a barker in the said FX terminal, said there are only nine PUVs, which ferry passengers from Bulacan to Manila, operated on Thursday.
In a media briefing, DOTC spokesperson Migs Sagcal said the nationwide transport strike on Thursday was "illegal".
"Ano pa at binigyan natin sila ng prangkisa kung hindi naman sila tutupad sa kanilang mga tungkulin na magsakay ng mga pasahero," he said.
Sagcal said the government could cancel the franchise of PUV drivers and operators who participated in the protest-caravan.
On Thursday, PUV drivers who participated in the caravan covered their vehicles' plate numbers to avoid being identified by the authorities.
Sagcal said there were already LTFRB and Land Transportation Office personnel scouting for the PUV's with covered plate numbers.
"Wala nang urungan ang implementasyon ng JAO, wala kaming nakikitang rason para i-defer ang bagong fine system na ito," he said.
Sagcal added that only the deputized LTO and LTFRB personnel can implement the JAO.
Earlier, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said they would still follow their old fine system, P5,000 for the each colorum vehicle and P1,000 for the driver.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that there would be no conflict because they also share the goal of the DOTC, which is to ease the traffic congestion along the metropolis' major thoroughfares.
The transport groups warned that they will continue the protest caravan until "the government gives them what they want."
To give assistance to the stranded passengers, the MMDA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) provided free rides along the Metro.
The AFP provided nine military trucks, which ferried passengers from Trinoma to Monumento, Quezon Avenue to Litex in Commonwealth and Trinoma to Pasay City.
Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) was on stand-by to ensure the peace and order during the protest-caravan. (Sunnex)