12 October 2021 – The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) will initiate the creation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) to address the issues raised by transport cooperatives about the requirements of state banks for the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program loans.
In a recent Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Cooperatives (JCOCC) hearing, it was found that cooperatives must secure a franchise grant from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) before being granted a loan under the PUV Modernization Program from the government’s financial institutions, particularly the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, ARTA Director General, echoed the proposal of the National Association of Training Centers for Cooperatives (NATCCO) in forming a TWG and called for inclusivity and the use of a whole-of-government approach to break through the silo systems of all involved stakeholders.
“I think that is also the direction that we’re going to take and it has to be inclusive po. Dapat may kinatawan ang pribado kasi kayo po ang magbe-benefit or magiging disadvantaged sa kung anong polisiya ang gagawin,” he said in a meeting with government officials and transport cooperatives on 30 September 2021.
“We will include this initiative in our Program NEHEMIA (National Effort for the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies),” he added. “Kailangan tutukan ito kasi paubos na ang oras ng administration na ito.”
The Program NEHEMIA is ARTA’s flagship program for inter-agency streamlining which aims to reduce the processes, requirements, and processing time by 52 percent in 52 weeks for five priority sectors.
The non-submission of local government units of their local public transport route plan (LPTRP) was seen to be one of the bottlenecks in the state banks’ processing of transport cooperatives’ loan applications.
The LPTRP is a plan formulated by LGUs that details the route networks, modes, and required number of units per mode to deliver public land transport services, and is a minimum requirement prescribed for the issuance of franchises.
Data from the LTFRB showed that out of 1,575 LGUs, of which 1,379 are capacitated, only 729 have submitted their LPTRPs.
The ARTA chief said they will assist in seeking the submission of the LPTRP non-compliant cities and municipalities.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will provide the Authority with letters addressed to LGUs stating the deadline of submission and the list of LGUs that have yet to submit their LPTRPs or even give any feedback.
Undersecretary Ernesto V. Perez, ARTA Deputy Director General for Operations, asked the LTFRB to observe Section 3.2.4 of DOTr’s Department Order No. 2017-1, which states that the transportation department can determine the routes and services for which franchises shall be issued by LTFRB should there be no available LPTRP for a certain area.
The LTFRB said that they will raise the suggestion to the Board but noted that it would be better for LGUs to craft the LPTRPs since they have the expertise in their respective localities.
ARTA, along with the said government agencies, state banks, and transport cooperatives are set to conduct more meetings in the coming days.
Usec. Perez called on the participating stakeholders to continue working with each other to iron out the issues in this aspect of the PUV Modernization Program.
“Given the few remaining months of the administration, I think it’s important na immediately we get the help of the Cooperative Development Authority, ARTA, and other agencies like LTFRB, government financial institutions, with participation of the cooperatives,” he said.
“Hindi po tayo titigil dito hangga’t hindi tayo umuusad dahil napaka-importanteng proyekto nito ng gobyerno,” he added.
The PUV Modernization Program is one of the landmark projects of the Duterte administration under the DOTr. Launched in 2017, it aimed to make the country’s public transportation more efficient and environmentally friendly before President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s term ends.