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By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Tuesday, July 21, 2020
In a meeting with Gov. Gwen Garcia with LTFRB, LTO, DBP and LBP on July 17, jeepney drivers and operators requested that they be allowed to operate while waiting for the approval of their loan to modernize their fleets. (Lito Tecson)

Jeepneys in Cebu Province can ply their old routes soon as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) gave a go-signal for these to be back on the road.

However, as to when this will start, drivers will have to wait for the formal announcement from DOTr, said Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia in a press conference on Monday, July 20, held in Barili town.

"Akong ibalita kaninyo karon nga nisugot na si Sec. (Arthur) Tugade nga makabalik og dagan kining atong mga jeepneys, karon gitugutan lang sa feeder roads lang ni dili paman na sa national roads. Karon tugutan basta certified nga road worthy. Nagkauyon sad mi," Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said.

"Matud pa ni Sec. Tugade, 'Governor ok naman yan basta lang yung jeepney ay hindi kakara-kara.’ Basta di lang na kagang-kagang inyong jeepneys, subject to LTO (Land Transportation Office) inspection ug LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board), then makabalik na pagdagan," she said.

As to when it will take effect, Garcia disclosed that she submitted a written request to Tugade Monday, July 20 and hopefully by today, July 21 or tomorrow, July 22, jeepneys can ply their old routes. 

"Ayaw usa mo og diretso ha. Feeder roads lang usa mo ha. Maghuwat kita og formal nga announcement. Apan kini karon gipasiuna ko lang pagtaho kaninyo. Kay sumala sa atong gikauyonan niadtong Byernes nga ako jud ipaabot kang Sec. Tugade ang inyong hangyo, napaabot na nato kana kaganinang udto," the governor said. 

Last Friday, July 17, Garcia promised public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers and operators that she will call Tugade requesting for a provisional authority waiving the hierarchy of public transport deployment in general community quarantine areas.

The request came when drivers, who have already grouped as a cooperative, availed of the loan package from Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) for the modernization of their fleets.

It was found in last Friday’s meeting that the granting of loans is taking more than the standard 45-60 day period.

As a result, it was agreed that while drivers and operators are still consolidating themselves and waiting for the granting of the loan, they will be allowed to operate in order to survive.

In the said meeting, LTFRB Central Visayas Director Eduardo Montealto III agreed to allow drivers to run in interior or feeder roads while the governor asks the DOTr to waive the heirarchy of transport modalities.

Under LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2020-017, public utility buses (PUBs) are the preferred modes of transport during General Community Quarantine (GCQ) while jeepneys can only be allowed if they are omnibus franchising guidelines-compliant jeepneys or operated by cooperatives or are fleet-managed.

Several transport drivers and operators sought the help of Liloan Mayor and League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter President Christina Frasco to ask the LTFRB to give them consideration to operate when the province was placed on Modified GCQ last May. Her requests were not granted. 

Frasco later asked the help of the governor.

In her meetings with the stakeholders, Garcia emphasized that the transport sector have suffered enough for being unable to operate and provide for their families for the past four months.

"Walay kita atong mga jeepney drivers pwerte na gyud tawong lisura," Garcia said.

The drivers, she said, have also shown their interests to modernize their fleets and acquire new and modern jeepneys. 

"Angay man sad nga mo upgrade na gyud. Cebu deserves nothing less," the governor said.

The drivers and operators also have until December 2020 to complete their consolidation before their total phaseout. (Vanessa L. Almeda)