Transport groups to launch protest, strike in some areas on July 17

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 15) - "No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition" leader George San Mateo on Saturday announced a protest caravan in Metro Manila on Monday, where jeepney operators will March from Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon city  to Mendiola in Manila.

He said other operators in some areas in Zambales, Bataan, and Pampanga will also conduct a transport strike for the entire day.

San Mateo added the protest caravan in Mendiola aims to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to hear the plight of affected operators, who protest the government's Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

The "No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition," which San Mateo claims to have hundreds of members, is composed of jeepney operator organizations. It has been a vocal critic of the government's biggest transport program.

San Mateo also accused the government of corporatizing the jeepney industry, saying the program will kill the livelihood of thousands of jeepney operators, especially the small-time ones.

The coalition opposes the passage of House Bill 4334 or the Traffic Crisis Act of 2016, which he said will institutionalize the administrative order of the transportation department to supposedly phaseout jeepneys.

San Mateo also asserted that this program will affect commuters who will surely face a surge in fares once the modernization program gets fully implemented.

However, Transportation officials have earlier clarified that they are not doing a phaseout.

During the program launch, Transportation secretary Art Tugade said they are doing a systemic introduction of newer and modern units for environmental and road safety concerns.

Related: DTI unveils plans for modern jeepney

The PUV modernization program was launched in June-after months of revisions and consultations, and numerous protests by opposing transport groups.

Under the program, jeepney models which are older than 15 years will no longer be accredited for public conveyance.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will assess PUV franchises that will expire in the next few months to see if they are compliant with the Department Order known as the Omnibus Guidelines on the Planning and Identification of Public Road Transportation Services and Franchise Issuance.

The Department of Transportation had earlier signed an agreement with Land Bank of the Philippines to offer financing programs to affected jeepney drivers.

LTFRB officials said the Land Bank will loan P80,000 each to 250 operators in the pilot areas in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao for this year. Some 28,000 operators will also be granted P80,000 each in 2018.