Cooperativism became the talk of the town all of a sudden in the transport sector these past months. All because of a burning issue and still a hot topic today, the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization (PUVM) Program. In my conversation with several transport groups, majority of them are likely to drive into that direction. Registering as a co-operative has become an attractive option in the midst of these recent developments.
As part of the PUVM Program, public transport groups are encouraged to organize themselves as formal organizations and shall register into either corporations or co-operatives. They shall be given an omnibus franchise that will cover all the units that were previously given with individual franchises. This means, individual franchises shall no longer be allowed. In fact, under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, individual franchise holders are given one year to group themselves and file a Petition for Consolidation of their Certificates of Public Convenience.
Like that of the CDA, a little known Government Office which is the Office of the Transport Co-operative (OTC), an attached agency in the DOTr, has been pushed into the limelight because of these recent developments in the transport sector. The OTC is a co-regulating body of the CDA but only on Transport Co-operatives.
For those who opt to become a Corporation, they shall register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those who prefer to become a co-operative, they shall register with the Cooperative Development Authority and that they shall undergo a Pre-Registration Seminar (PRS) and a Cooperative Education Transport Operation Seminar to be conducted by the CDA and OTC respectively.
So far, there are 22 transport groups in the CDA – CAR registry. Most of these are the tourist and van transport services. Based on requests submitted to the CDA-CAR Office, more applications for registration are still pending. There are two taxi groups that are operating as a co-operative. In addition, there are two more multi-purpose co-ops that operates a bus transport. No jeepney groups have registered yet. However, there are intentions from several jeepney associations to register with the CDA in the coming weeks.
Speaking of jeepneys, this has been the longtime symbol of Filipino ingenuity that became famous all over the world. Visiting foreign officials almost always receive a miniature jeepney as token from their local counterparts. Every time they come to our shores, foreigners are all curious about riding in one of those colorful vehicles found in almost all corners of the Archipelago. Perhaps, the original jeepney design will be maintained to keep the spirit of Filipino pride alive. Thailand has modernized the Tuk-tuk, their own symbol of Thai ingenuity, but they did not change the design.