QUEZON CITY –The Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC), upon the invitation from University of the Philippines’ (UP) professors of the College of Social Work and Community Development, held on Thursday, April 21, 2022, at UP-Diliman Campus, a dialogue-meeting with the officers of five ‘distressed’ transport organizations, which were operating under the University of the Philippines Transport Group (UPTG).
The five transport organizations were UP-PHILCOA, UP-PANTRANCO, UP-TOKI, UP-SM NORTH, and UP-KATIPUNAN, with routes reaching and affecting UP commuters when they failed to comply with the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) mandate to form into a juridical entity and, as mandated, consolidate their franchises/units into a cooperative or corporation.
OTC OIC-Chairman and Executive Director Engr. Eugene M. Pabualan led a team from OTC to the dialogue-meeting in an effort to address the transport group’s issues and concerns, specifically the loss of their routes.
The transport organizations failed to consolidate their units under a single Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC)/ Franchise, which deadline was set by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on March 31, 2022, through Memorandum Circular 2021-021.
Since 2019, LTFRB had extended the deadline of consolidation of CPCs/units twice, primarily due to the pandemic.
The consolidation of CPC/units has been enforced by LTFRB by virtue of Department Order 2017-011 or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, leading to the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).
OTC Board Secretary Ramil Henderson Urrera and OTC Legal Officer Atty. Christian Oberio explained to the UPTG the consequences of not consolidating their units, as mandated in the industry consolidation provision of DO 2017-011.
Board Secretary Urrera explained the components of the Department Order: Consolidation of units and CPC, Fleet Management, Automated Fare Collection System, Capacity Building Activities, and emphasized that the program started in 2017.
Atty. Oberio, on the other hand, discussed the social support program component of the said Department Order as an alternative or assistance to the unconsolidated operators. The programs he mentioned were the Entsuperneur Program and Tsuper Iskolar, a partnership of the DOTR Family, respectively, with the Department of Labor and Employment and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
According to the UPTG, they were hesitant to consolidate then because they want to continue keeping their traditional units, which is not allowed under the modernization program, even as they said that they look up to a civil rights transport group for advice then.
As a consequence of non-consolidation, the UPTG risk losing their routes to consolidated transport cooperatives or corporations.
A recent LTFRB issuance, Memorandum Circular 2022-033, states that unconsolidated operators will cease to exist on their operation until such time that a consolidated operator can replace their units with PUVMP-compliant ones. However, these unconsolidated operators may apply in the new/developmental routes.
OIC-Chairman Pabualan has encouraged UPTG to form into a transport cooperative, so they can be given proper direction, starting with the conduct of Cooperative Education and Transport Operation Seminar (CETOS). “Once you (UPTG) have transformed into a transport cooperative, OTC and UP can work together to help you to get away from this situation.”
Ms. Myrna V. Magbitang, DOTr Social Development Specialist, National Program Monitoring Office-Bus Rapid Transit Project, and the UP professors, who were assisting the distressed transport organizations, are expected to work on the needed organizational documents while OTC brings the matter to its Board in its next meeting. Engr. Pabualan stressed out during the dialogue that there is nothing to lose in embracing cooperativism while both UP and OTC are finding legal ways to bring UPTG back into the mainstream. (OTC/COI)