Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), along with insulted passengers, agreed that the 'Slim Only' sticker was not amusing, but rather discriminatory.
In a statement released on June 6, Monday, LTFRB member Ariel Inton stated that the sign can be considered as a franchise violation. He said that the sticker insinuated that only slim passengers can ride in the front seat, therefore singling out other passengers who are not.
There have also been complaints about some drivers favoring only women to sit in the front passenger seat, which were also seen in sticker form inside public utility jeepneys (PUJ).
However, drivers can prioritize the seating of certain sectors, such as persons with disabilities (PWD) or senior citizens.
“There are passengers you give priority to, like PWDs or senior citizens. But never discriminate based on size or physique or gender. To give priority is to accept passengers. To discriminate is to refuse them,” he said.
Inton, also a laywer, said that discrimination against passengers is prohibited under Land Transportation Office (LTO) and LTFRB’s Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01. What covers as discrimination under the administrative order is the driver’s refusal to serve the public or the passengers. This, in turn, is considered as a violation of traffic rules and regulations, which then leads to the franchise’s suspension or cancellation.
Offenders will be fined from 5,000 to 15,000 pesos, and can have their vans confiscated for 30 days or even have their certificate of public convenience deemed invalid.
They may also be subject to the same liabilities and penalties of discriminating against PWDs or senior citizens.
Inton affirmed the public’s right to PUVs, despite the intention of some drivers trying to accommodate more passengers in the front seat or having a bias for female commuters.
“The public should be able to use public utility vehicles for as long as [the passenger] paid the fare. There is no room for ‘reserve seats’ in PUVs.”
He encouraged those who have been discriminated or got mistreated by these drivers to file a complaint at the LTFRB.