MARCH 19, 2013

NR # 3048B

Solons oppose phase-out policy for taxi units
Lawmakers today assailed the implementation of the government’s 13-year-old phase-out policy for taxi units that would severely affect the livelihood of over 1,000 utility vehicle (UV) express operators. Members of the Coalition of Operator and Drivers of UV Express ATBP (CODEX) complained that they could not renew the registration of their respective units after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) refused to issue certifications of franchise validity for units that have reached the 13-year age limit. CODEX president Rosalino Marable said “since they could not ply their routes without renewing their motor vehicle registration, they don’t have a choice but to stop operating.” Operators were advised to seek legal relief if they can convince the Office of the President to reverse the LTFRB policy or the court to issue a restraining order. Rep. Teddy Casiño (Party-list, Bayan Muna) supported the stand of operators of UV express in opposing the 13-year-phase-out policy. Casiño said since last year, they have been complaining that there were no public consultations that transpired between government and their group. “It is like the policy is being implemented without studying the current situation. Government should heed the call of the people,” Casiño stressed. Casiño underscored that laws and policies should reflect and serve the needs and situation of the constituencies. Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (Party-list, Gabriela) said the TRO is an urgent and immediate relief but government should devise a scheme to help the operators or drivers acquire units on an easy, installment plan. “This scheme should give the drivers a chance to continue operating while the law is being implemented,” Ilagan said. She even suggested that forming a cooperative can help. To ease the problems of operators who are mostly former overseas workers, retired government, police and military personnel affected by the phase-out policy, the government, through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) Leasing Corporation, is accepting application for loan to finance the refleeting. LBP only charges 27 percent interest for a five-year loan term compared to the 43 percent charged by other commercial banks. Some 20,000 units of Asian utility vehicles and vans that are franchised as GT express vehicles nationwide or at least 34 percent will be affected by the assailed policy by 2013. (30) lvc

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