Palawan Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez has asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to suspend its ongoing crackdown on colorum shuttle vans for at least 60 days starting in June, citing its crippling effect on tourism in the province which is currently at its peak.
Governor Alvarez made the appeal during a dialogue Wednesday between LTFRB officials and van operators called by the City government and held at the City Coliseum. The dialogue was prompted by the agency crackdown that began last week which has affected the province’s transport sector that is currently dominated by unregistered shuttle vans.
Alvarez said that the crackdown if it continues, will cripple the transport sector at a time when tourism is at its peak and travelers are still heavily reliant on rental vans.
“Papakiusapan natin sila [LTFRB] na magbigay ng moratorium na huwag hulihin ang walang prangkisa hanggang July 30. Sa ngayon kasi marami ang turista, kung huhulihin pa ninyo ang mga van kung saan karamihan ay colorum ay kawawa tayo,” Alvarez said.
He noted that tourist arrivals in the province have rapidly increased following the closure of Boracay Island, with daily commercial flights hitting a record 32 flights daily.
“Ngayon pa na 32 flights a day tayo at madami ang turista. Kawawa ang mga turista katulad sa Coron, pupunta ng airport nakatricycle. Wrong timing na hulihin ang mga nagseserbisyo para madala ang mga pasahero sa iba’t ibang lugar,” Alvarez said.
Shuttle van drivers and operators during the dialogue also protested the crackdown, claiming the absence of a permanent LTFRB office in Palawan has resulted in the proliferation of colorum vehicles.
Alvarez meanwhile urged the van operators to make use of the moratorium period to apply or follow up their franchise applications and secure the insurance for both their passengers and vehicle.
Reacting to Alvarez’ appeal, LTFRB Regional Director Gualberto Gualberto said he will relay the request to their central office and wait for orders but will continue their crackdown until such is lifted by higher authorities.
“Lahat naman napapag-usapan kaya hintayin na lang natin kung ano ang resulta basta sumunod lang sila sa kung ano ang nasa batas,” Gualberto said.
Board Member Winston Arzaga, Chairman of the Committee on Transportation told Palawan News that provincial board will pass a resolution to formalize the request of the provincial government.
He said however that the moratorium should be at least six months to allow transport operators to process their franchise applications.
“Para sa akin kulang ang 60 days para magkaroon sila ng franchise, dapat sana mga six months lalo na special case dito sa Palawan dahil dumarami ang turista kaya talagang mataas ang demand ng sasakyan. But still, sususugan ito ng provincial board,” Arzaga told Palawan News.
City Councilor Rodolfo Amurao, chair of the city council’s transportation committee, also voiced support to Alvarez’ appeal.