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Leyte Transport Coops Cite Gains Of Modernization Program

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Transport cooperatives in Leyte said Wednesday the modernization program provided stable jobs to drivers and comfort to commuters.

In a press briefing, Maria Judith Juare, manager of the United Albuera-Ormoc Transport Cooperative that operates in the northwestern part of Leyte, said minibus drivers are assured of PHP400 daily wage, social benefits, and free dinner regardless of the cooperative’s income.

“Their income is higher than the PHP350 daily earnings of traditional jeepneys during days with fewer passengers. Our drivers don’t have to work all day long since they have enough time to rest, unlike those hired by traditional vehicle operators,” Juare said.

She said the cooperative has available funds to fix modern units should they need repair, unlike those units owned by sole proprietors.

“Our commuters are the source of our income, and they deserve better service. They have to feel secure and comfortable while riding. They are assured that their hairstyle is maintained when they get to work because there is enough space during their travel,” Juare added.

Mervin Llego, general manager of Central Tacloban Transport Cooperative, said commuters are more confident riding modern vehicles with global positioning systems and installed closed-circuit television.

“Whenever they leave something in our units, they can easily find the lost items with the help of CCTV footage,” Llego told reporters.

Ben Cañete, president of Babatngon Transport Cooperative, with units plying the Tacloban City–Babatngon, Leyte route, dispelled rumors that the management of modern units is struggling to pay their loans with the Land Bank of the Philippines.

“In our two years of operations, we never missed paying our PHP500,000 monthly payment obligations. In fact, we received a certificate of good standing from the Land Bank. We also managed to pay taxes and other fees,” Cañete said.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Eastern Visayas Regional Director Gualberto Gualberto said 94 percent of public utility vehicles (PUVs) in Eastern Visayas have consolidated for the PUV modernization program, one of the highest in the country.

Of the 3,692 registered PUVs in the region, about 3,480 units, including more than 700 modern buses and jeepneys, have consolidated as of December 2023.

Consolidation involves the formation of transport cooperatives or other legal entities, which will be entitled to such benefits as government subsidies and access to credit facilities to help them modernize their fleets and run the modern units systematically and predictably, according to LTFRB.

Under the extended deadline, unconsolidated public utility vehicles are allowed to operate until April 30 as long as they are registered. (PNA)