Week-long truck holiday to have 'minimal impact' - DOTr

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 16) — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the nearly week-long "truck holiday" starting Monday, Nov. 19, would have minimal impact on port operations.

The DOTr said Thursday that only "small, independent trucking groups" would be joining the "Day of Rest," which is organized by some truckers and customs brokers to protest the truck phaseout and delayed releasing of empty containers.

The department said bigger trucking companies expressed that they would not participate in the planned protest.

Under Department Order No. 2017-009, the certificates of public convenience of trucks and buses, which are older than 15 years old, can no longer be renewed.

"The road worthiness of bus type or truck for hire units cannot be determined with sufficient accuracy which is vital in ensuring the safety and convenience of our commuting public," the department order read.

But, Inland Haulers and Truckers Association President Teddy Gervacio said old trucks are not dangerous.

"Hindi ako naniniwala na ang mga truck ko na hindi nila tinanggap sa rehistro ay delikado dahil ito ay ginagawan ko nang maayos na preventive maintenance," Gervacio said Wednesday in a press briefing.

[Translation: I don't believe that my trucks that they didn't allow to be registered are dangerous because I put them under proper preventive maintenance.]

Gervacio and other truckers who would halt operations from Nov. 19-24 insist that roadworthiness should be the basis in the issuance of certificates of public convenience and franchises, and not the year the trucks were manufactured.

However, Land Transportation and Franchise Regulatory Board Martin Delgra III said truckers have already agreed that units older than 15 years may still continue operating during the transition period.

"These units, regardless of year model, will be allowed to operate during the transition period, should they pass the roadworthiness test of the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) being procured by the Land Transportation Office (LTO)," Delgra said in a statement.

Empty containers

At least five truckers and brokers under the Alliance of Philippine Brokers and Truckers Associations (APBTA) have agreed to hold a Day of Rest beginning on Nov. 19 and would last until Nov. 24 if no government representative would come to negotiate with them.

"Pagod na pagod na po kami sa kakasulat, kaka-attend ng mga meetings na pinapatawag kunwari ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno. Hindi namin alam kung pinaparating ba nila ang aming hinaing at suggestion sa kaalaman ng Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas. Kung pinaparating man, tama ba ang impormasyon?" the APBTA said Monday in a statement.

[Translation: We are very tired of writing, attending meetings supposedly called by government agencies. We don't know if they are relaying our concerns and suggestions to the President of the Philippines. Even if they do, are they relaying the correct information?]

Aside from the truck phase out, the APTBA is also protesting the delayed release of empty containers from ports which they say cause congestion.

"Ang mga importers/exporters delayed na ang mga shipments. Customs brokers, truckers, drivers, pahinante abonado at gutom na. Pagod na pagod na at pagal na kami sa kahirapan na ayaw tugunan ng mga ganid na mga shipping lines kasama ang mga kasabwat nito ang empty containers congestion," it said.

[Translation: Importers and exporters have delayed shipments. Customs brokers, truckers, drivers, porters are doing pro bono work and are hungry. We are very tired with this difficulty which greedy shipping lines and their cohorts in the empty containers congestion do not want to address.]

The groups wanted the Bureau of Customs to "properly" implement a 2015 administrative order, which mandates that empty containers that arrive in the Philippines to be re-exported within 90 days from date of last discharge or else their owners would have to pay import taxes.

The DOTr said Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Jay Santiago and DOTr officer-in-charge Undersecretary for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez have met with truckers on Wednesday to discuss their concerns.

CNN Philippines Multi-platform Writer Xave Gregorio contributed to this report.