Hundreds stranded due to 'transport caravan'

Posted at 06/19/14 6:17 PM

MANILA – Hundreds of people were stranded Thursday due to a transport caravan by public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators.

Some passengers complained about the lack of PUVs in Pasig and Quezon cities, where the mass actions were held.

Along Commonwealth Avenue and in Balintawak and Fairview areas in Quezon City, passengers complained that they had a hard time getting a ride in the morning.

The protest caravan started at the Quezon Memorial Circle. From this point, PUV drivers and operators marched through to the offices of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Traffic build-up was also observed along Ortigas Avenue Extension, where some UV Express drivers and operators held a march to protest a policy preventing them from picking up and dropping off passengers in the middle of their respective routes.

The joint administrative order imposes a much higher fine for colorum vehicles: P1 million for buses, P200,000 for trucks, P50,000 for jeepneys, P200,000 for vans, P120,000 for taxis, and P6,000 for tricycles for the first offense.

Violators' colorum vehicles will also be impounded for three months and the public utility vehicles shall be blacklisted.

The new order also prescribes higher fines for various traffic violations.

Under the joint administrative order, only agents from the LTO and LTFRB are authorized to enforce the heftier fines.

DOTC: Disciplined drivers need not protest

In a statement, the DOTC said disciplined drivers and operators have nothing to fear from the new order. It also appealed to drivers not to abandon their obligation to the commuters.

''We issued the revised fines and penalties to better ensure road discipline and safety for the public. If these groups are not violating traffic rules and safety measures, then what are they protesting about? It is time for them to follow rules like everyone else, and to practice discipline and orderliness on the road,'' DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya said in a statement.

''Commuters put their safety in the hands of transport operators everyday. It is government’s obligation to make sure that public utility vehicle operators are responsible in delivering their services. That is why we issued the Joint Administrative Order."

Transport groups lambasted the new order, saying this will only give corrupt traffic enforcers more reason to extort money from PUV drivers.

Jun Magno, STOP & GO Transport Coalition president, said no real consultation was made by the government with the transportation sector.

He also scored the government for the imposition of the higher fines, saying this is only a tool for additional revenue.

He added that the LTFRB must first resolve its backlog of franchise applications before running after colorum vehicles.

Transport groups said they were not on a strike, but they said some drivers who were affected by the order merely volunteered personally not to ply their respective routes today.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and other various government units deployed trucks and other vehicles to ferry stranded passengers.