Extension for filing of PUJ consolidation sought

The Baguio City Council in a resolution has called on the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board- Central Office to extend the deadline for the filing of applications for the consolidation of franchise holders of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) in Baguio City.

The council’s request to the LTFRB came on the heels of a complaint raised by the president and the legal counsel of Mines View Gibraltar Transport Cooperative.

In April 2021, the LTFRB-CAR rejected the cooperative’s application since it was filed after the March 31 deadline.

Atty. Jocelyn Buclig, legal counsel and member of the cooperative, attempted to file the application at the central office, however, it was likewise rejected since the central office only accepts applications for the consolidation of franchise holders plying inter-region routes.

Under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program, PUV operators are obliged to be members of a cooperative or a corporation for the consolidation of their franchises. The cooperative or the corporation becomes a juridical entity that owns a single franchise and operates on a specific route.

The deadline for the filing applications was earlier extended until December 31, 2020, six months after the July 10, 2020 schedule in the wake of the pandemic which was also an extension of the 2018 original schedule. In December 2020, the LTFRB extended for the third time the deadline to March 31, 2021 due to the appeal of Rep. Claudine Diana Bautista of Drivers United for Mass Progress and Equal Rights (DUMPER) PTDA Partylist.

Buclig appealed to the city council to support the cooperative’s appeal to the LTFRB to extend the deadline again, claiming that there are still a number of entities in the region that failed to file their applications before March 31, 2021 for various reasons.

Tito Dalilis, President of the cooperative, relayed that his application remained pending at the  Cooperative Development Authority for four months and was only approved on March 22, which caused the delay of the submission of his application to the regional office.

Dalilis also pointed to the numerous requirements as one of the reasons why he failed to process his application on time with only a few days left before March 31.

Lalaine Sobremonte, LTFRB-CAR OIC Regional Director, however, asserted that the deadline can no longer be extended further in consideration to those who earnestly filed their applications on or before the March 31 schedule.

Sobremonte cited that 87.21% of traditional public utility jeepneys in the region are already under judicial entities. A large portion of that percentage consists of PUJs in Baguio City, she added.

Dalilis was earlier advised by the regional office to merge with Mines View Transport Cooperative, another transport group plying the same route which was able to apply for consolidation, provided the consolidated cooperative is willing to accept the proposal.

Sobremonte said her office is willing to appeal to the Mines View Transport Cooperative to accommodate the members of the Mines View Gibraltar Transport Cooperative.

The council members asserted that leniency should still prevail in favor of the hapless transport groups despite the multiple extended deadlines.

“For humanitarian reasons, let us consider the appeal of these transport workers. They will eventually lose their source of living if you don’t heed their call,” Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan pleaded.

The city council in a separate resolution also urged the LTFRB-CAR to support the call for an extension of the filing of applications for consolidation not just in Baguio City but in the entire region. –Jordan G. Habbiling