A strong coalition of the public transportation sector has appealed to presumptive President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to replace the Department of Transportation (DOTr) with a new head amid speculations that the incumbent, Secretary Arthur Tugade, will be retained in his current position.
In a press conference Tuesday, the National Public Transport Coalition (NPTC) said the transport sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic and continues to be crippled with the spike in fuel prices.
However, the coalition said they are also the most neglected sector and their concerns have not been addressed by the current DOTr leadership.
The NPTC is composed of representatives from the National Confederation of Tricycle and Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (NACTODAP), Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON), Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator tutol sa Phase Out (STOP);
Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila (ATOMMI), Unified Transport Alliance of the Philippines (UTAP), Small Bus Operators of the Philippines, Philippine Bus Operators Association of the Philippines, Pilipino Society and Development Advocates, Alliance of Philippine Customs Brokers and Trucking Associations (CTAP), Inland Haulers and Truckers Association (INHTA);
Haulers and Truckers Association in the Watersouth (HATAW), Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection, Truck Drivers Association of the Philippines, Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO), Motorcycle Riders of the Philippines, Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO).
The coalition signed a joint manifesto asking outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte and his probable successor, Marcos, “to rectify the transportation sectors’ concerns with transparency, equity and sustainability for all stakeholders immediately.”
“Ang transport sector po ay mahigpit na hinagupit ng pandemya. At ngayon patuloy po kaming pinaluluhod dahil sa mataas na presyo ng gasoline. Sa gitna po ng lahat ng ito, napabayaan po ng kasalukuyang liderato sa DOTr ang aming hanay. Para po kaming inabandona,” they said.
“Ang pag-asa po namin ay ang pangako ni incoming President Marcos, Jr. na bibigyang-pansin nya ang lahat ng sector at tutulungang makaahon kasabay ng pagpaangat ng ekonomiya. Isa pong solusyon sa transport sector ay ang pag-appoint ng bagong secretary sa DOTr na tutulong, mag-aalaga at magpapalakas ng aming hanay,” coalition spokesperson Ariel Lim said.
They said the appointment of the key officials of the DOTr, Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ideally “should come and with consent from the transport sector.”
“The public transport industry is a complicated and demanding public service, with different issues for each sector that affects all Filipinos and therefore our economy. The government-public transport stakeholders relationship is symbiotic that needs to be properly managed towards the common good,” they said.
The coalition said “it is therefore imperative that the appointment of Secretary and other key officials of the Department of Transportation, Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board should have strong background in public transportation, impartial, and who understands the intricacies of the industry.”
They urged the present and incoming administrations to include their coalition “in the process of choosing and appointing these officials” to help and guide the government on who could best address the concerns of the transport sector.
In addition, the NPTC said there should be a transparent and equal fuel subsidy distribution.
“With the fuel hike and inflation of prices, we are destitute for government help. Fuel subsidy, just like COVID-19 pandemic subsidy, were only given, allegedly, to select few. Majority of us still has not received any subsidy at all,” Lim added.
They said verification of “the recipient of the subsidy is close to impossible due to lack of transparent and reliable distribution system. There is also no responsive communication line between the government and the public transport sector to ensure that fair distribution is made, especially to those in dire need.”
The coalition reiterated their appeal to Marcos Jr. on the need for a new, competent Transportation Secretary to address the growing concerns of the transport sector.