Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Three.

It was the fourth year of the turbulent decade of the seventies.  The decade that is remembered in our history for the series of crises, both political and economic, that our people had to face and endure and with combination of grit and luck  –  eventually weathered.

Towards the last quarter of that year, one such crisis loomed large on the horizon,  the kind with a potential for crippling the economy the impending oil crunch of ’74.

The Genesis

October  9, 1973  

When the subject of that first oil crisis was taken up in the cabinet meeting of October 9, 1973, President Ferdinand Marcos called the attention of his Cabinet to the fact the transportation, along with power generation, is one of the principal sectors utilizing oil that would be hard hit by the impending crunch.  With a sense both of urgency and concern, he began to think aloud for solution.  He was emphatic in his first admonition:  the jeepney drivers and operators should not be deprived of their livelihood.  He then remembered what he must have said more than once before on the subject and reiterated that the solution was to organize them into cooperatives.

Once that magic word was uttered as though by cue, the other ideas cane out in quick succession:  make the jeepney drivers and operators co-owners of the business allow them to own bigger units,  extend to them loans, and give them incentives, such as priority in the grant of permits or franchises.

Chairman RVR and October 19, 1973

Marcos then ordered the creation of a committee under the Office of the President to oversee the organization of transport cooperatives among jeepney drivers.

He appointed Assistant Executive Secretary Roberto V. Reyes to be its Chairman.   Ten days after that fateful meeting, or on October 19, 1973, Presidential Memorandum Order No. 395 was issued to formally create that committee and set down its mandates.

The Transport Cooperative Program

Thus, the transport cooperative program was born.

For its objective, the program aims to gear the cooperative organization and system towards :

1.      The integration and rationalization of the public transit and transport system in order to effect economy and efficiency in the movement of
passengers and goods,

2.      The amelioration of the social and economic conditions of public utility vehicle drivers,   and

3.      The mitigation of the effects of a serious and impending shortage of energy.

The ten-member committee thereafter immediately went about its tasks and on the program’s first year, it was able to organize the first 11 cooperatives in Metro Manila.


On July 10, 1974, Memorandum Order No. 438 was issued to expand the coverage and scope of the program. It has tasked the CTC to include the provinces in its campaign and opened the membership of the transport cooperatives to vehicle owners or operators.

This latter move, if controversial, had nonetheless its share of tactical brilliance: it forged a working relationship between the “small investors” in the public transport industry and their “industrial partners”. This unique mix, which would later also include the “allied workers”, became a model for fostering industrial peace in the industry, even as it ‘enhanced the growth of transport cooperatives.

For with this arrangement, a ready forum through the cooperative had been provided for ventilating their grievances against each other. And with their pooled resources placed under the collective management, if not ownership of the cooperative, not only the viability but also the sustainability of their business enterprises had been given assurance.

By 1977,

when the committee had organize 33 cooperatives, 24 in Metro Manila and 9 in the provinces, with a total membership of close of 10,000 drivers and operators, an agreement had been entered into among the Board of Transportation, Department of Local Government and Community Development and the CTC, whereby the transport cooperatives’ applications for certificates of public convenience were required to pass through the CTC first for its endorsement. This was seen both as a means to assist the cooperatives and as a regulatory measure that would help carry out effectively its task to rationalize the public transport system. Similar agreement was later signed between the OTC and the Land Transportation Commission, an agreement that to date remains the basis of the joint support the OTC and the LTFRB for the program.


It was also in 1977 that the now familiar red and blue diamond logo that serves to identify the transport cooperatives and their vehicle was adopted. The logo which joins two triangles at their respective bases very well symbolizes the two sets of linkages and networking involved, first in the cooperative organization and activities, and second, in their operation as public service entities. On the one hand, there is the linkage among the operators, the drivers and the allied workers, a relationship rooted in the principle that they are partners in the industry and as such, they should equitably share in the responsibilities of production as well as in the fruits of their labor and investments.

On the other hand, as grantees of the privilege to engage in public transport service, the cooperatives necessarily have to deal, and deal fairly, with the government which grants that privilege and the riding public which patronizes their service.

At the advent of the eighties, the transport cooperatives organized by the CTC grew substantially to 59 primaries with 14,523 members operating or managing 5,813 public utility vehicles.

In 1981,

a new dimension in the transport cooperative services manifested itself from the turbulence that spilled over from the past decade. In the face of the transport strikes declared by their more radical counterpart organizations, the transport cooperatives, mindful of the condition in their CPC’s to render service to the public at all times, refused to participate and even fielded their units in areas where transportation services had been rendered scarce or unavailable.  This development enhanced the partnership between government and the transport cooperatives which was to blossom in later years and lead to many joint efforts and activities that would mutually benefit them.


Also in this year, Executive Order No. 708 was issued whereby the Committee on Transportation Cooperatives (CTC) was transferred from the Office of the President and attached instead to the Ministry of Communications. The move was taken to enhance government’s efficiency in its supervision of the facilities and services of the transport cooperatives.

In the ensuing years, the steadily growing transport cooperative movement soon saw the need for a full-fledged office that will supervise and regulate as well as provide developmental direction and impetus to its activities. Thus on May 28 1983 Executive Order No. 898 was issued by the President Marcos reorganizing the CTC into the Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC), which continues to be attached to the Ministry (later Department) of Transportation and Communications.

Executive Secretary Roberto V. Reyes had to be weaned away from Malacañang to be the full-time chairman of the newly created office and continue his stewardship of the program which flourished under his leadership during the first decade of its existence. It is interesting to note that the first Board of Directors of OTC had among its prominent members, no less that President Fidel V. Ramos, who was then the Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, to whom a slot in the Board is reserved by Executive Order No. 398.

1983 to 1988                                                            THE ADJUSTMENT PERIOD

The period from 1983 to 1988 turned out to be a trial and adjustment period. Growth in terms of number of cooperatives and members slowed down a bit. Evidently, the intervening events from the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 1983 to the EDSA Revolution in 1986: had affected both the momentum of the program and the morale of the leadership of the transport cooperative movement. Considering that the program was a brainchild of former President Marcos, not a few incoming political leaders eyed with suspicion the intent behind its establishment and its closeness to the Marcoses. It was to take some time before the soothing out of feelings was to be achieved, and not until after the cooperatives themselves have shown their non-partisan character and their faithful adherence to the cooperative philosophy and tenets.

During the same period, however, specifically in 1985, OTC was able to put in place a more permanent foundation for a sustainable cooperative foundation for a sustainable cooperative program for the transport workers. DOTC approved and OTC promulgated Administrative Order No. 85-001 setting comprehensive guidelines for the promotion, organization, registration, supervision, regulation and development of transport cooperatives. But it also took sometimes for the existing cooperatives to adjust their organization and operations to some structural changes contemplated in this issuance.

A management staff separate from the Board of Directors could not be hired by some cooperatives which felt that the salaries for the staff would be a big drain from their resources. Those who were able to adjust, however, generally grew to be more stable and economically progressive as full-time attention by professional managers was now given to their cooperative enterprises.