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By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Saturday, July 18, 2020
In a meeting with transport groups on Friday, July 17, Gov. Gwen Garcia commits to ask the LTFRB, DOTr, and IATF to waive the heirarchy requirement in the deployment of public transport in GCQ areas so traditional jeepneys in Cebu Province can resume its operations. (Lito Tecson)

Traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJ) in Cebu Province will now be allowed to run starting Monday, July 20, but only on interior roads to feed passengers to the buses running in the national highway. Their regular routes won’t be allowed yet.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Central Visayas Director Eduardo Montealto Jr., finally agreed, upon Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s prodding, to allow traditional jeepneys to resume operations again after months of asking for its resumption.

Montealto emphasized that "on his level" he could not make a decision since he is merely an implementor of the national policy. What he can do instead is to allow feeder roads.

"Pwede nako mag-desisyon sa ato nga level. Maghimo ko og feeders didto sa national highway kun diin asa ang mga buses naghunong. Feeders lang. Dili na necessary kadto karaan ninyo nga rota," Montealto said.

He said feeder roads may start from the barangays or far-flung areas then towards the bus stops. 

Jeepneys, however, need to pass the motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) or road worthiness test.

"Ingon ana siguro ato paagi Gov. para di pud ta maalanganin," Montealto said. 

Under LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2020-017, public utility buses (PUBs) are the preferred modes of transport during General Community Quarantine (GCQ). In areas where PUBs could not operate, the memorandum provided a hierarchy of public transport service to be deployed, to wit: 
    1) tourist bus, 
    2) Omnibus franchising guidelines-compliant public utility jeepneys, 
    3) UV Express service, 
    4) traditional PUJs operated by cooperatives or are fleet-managed,
    5) and tourist vans.

Garcia committed to ask Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to waive the hierarchy requirement in the deployment of public transport in GCQ areas.

"So ako moy mosuwat sa DOTr ug IATF requesting for a provisional authority nga i-waive usa to ang hierarchy pending the approval of your application, showing proof that in fact consolidated na 80 percent (of the jeepney drivers and operators), and the rest of the 20 are very much willing to join the coops that are already consolidated, and with the further commitment nga once ma-approve ang ilang application, ready na ang units, ilisdan na na," the governor said. 

Montealto added he can guarantee that this figure indicate the drivers’ willingness to participate in the modernization program despite earlier opposition.

Liloan Mayor and League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP)-Cebu president Christina Frasco welcomed the development after seeking the LTFRB’s nod twice to give PUJs special permit to operate when the province was placed on GCQ.

She wrote letters of reconsideration first last May followed by on June 1 but all of these were repeatedly denied.

"Karon morag nihayag-hayag kay tungod atong nakita nga dunay posibilidad na tungod di man available ato PUVs dire, sa atong mga feeder roads basin pwede sila makadagan diha," Frasco said.

Garcia, Montealto and Frasco met on Friday, July 17 together with other local officials, and representatives of several transport groups and government banking institutions Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to discuss the loan facility that the banks can offer to jeepney drivers and operators.

The government banks are conduits of the DOTr under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) which will offer loans to jeepney drivers and operators through the cooperatives which they have formed. 

"To be very clear, these groups want modernization as well as us but what we want lang gyud unta sa pagkakaron isip lokal nga panggoberno atong matabangan ang mga tawo nga nanginahanglan. Nanghinaut ta nga kaning maong mga lakang makatabang gayud nila karon sa atong kalisud," Frasco said. 

Meawhile, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Central Visayas Director Victor Caindec committed to send LTO inspectors straight to the doorsteps of PUJ operators for the operators’ convenience. 

The LTO will issue the certificate of worthiness such as functional breaks, and lights, among others, as well as the required partitions to ensure social distancing, Caindec added. (Vanessa L. Almeda)