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Govt braces for weeklong transport strike

Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Romando Artes inspect the LIBRENG SAKAY bus, cars to be used on Monday’s Tigil-Pasada on March 6-12. PHOTO BY: RENE H. DILAN

THE government has laid out contingency plans to help commuters find a ride during the weeklong transport strike that starts Monday.

Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said Friday that during the interagency meeting presided by Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Hubert Guevarra Friday, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Transportation (DoTr), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) agreed to mobilize 106 of their vehicles to ferry commuters to their destinations during the strike.

The plans were put in place despite the assurance that 94 percent of jeepney drivers in Metro Manila will not be joining the strike.

Around 40,000 jeepneys are expected to join the strike in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

Garafil said police units will be deployed to monitor the situation in the affected areas and routes.

The MMDA will set up a command center for the DoTr and PNP to help monitor the traffic situation.

The MMDA and the DoTr will also be closely coordinating for the possible suspension of the number coding scheme in Metro Manila during the strike.

Several transport groups said their members will stay off their routes to protest the government’s plan to replace traditional jeepneys with modernized ones.

Garafil said the DoTr and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have explained to transport groups that the consolidation requirements under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) have been moved from June 30 to December 31 this year.

The LTFRB said only about 6 percent of the PUVs nationwide are expected to join the strike.

Manibela, a transport and party-list group, is the only UV Express transport organization that will join the strike in the National Capital Region.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said the modernization program is necessary, but its implementation needs to be discussed more thoroughly with stakeholders, particularly jeepney drivers groups.

On Saturday, the LTFRB issued a resolution directing regional directors to seek assistance from other transport operators in providing rides to commuters during the strike.

“The urgency of issuance of special permit for this purpose in the regional offices cannot be overemphasized,” the LTFRB said in the resolution.

LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz 3rd assured on Saturday that even if jeepneys do not ply their routes, commuters will still have a ride.

Guadiz also said he has discussed with local government units, some bus owners and the PNP the possibility of providing free rides to the public who will be affected by the strike.

Aside from the LTFRB, Quezon City, Taguig City, Caloocan City and Valenzuela have announced they will offer free rides to commuters.

The Manila City Public Information Office on Saturday said public schools in the city will be going “asynchronous” during the duration of the strike, which means they will have to switch to online instruction.

Private schools were also encouraged to move to online classes during the strike.

Among the schools who announced the shift were the University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University, University of the East, and National University.

Quezon City First District Rep. Juan Carlos “Arjo” Atayde will offer free rides in his district and surrounding areas.

Atayde said he will mobilize his own 37 vehicles to 37 barangay (villages) to help daily commuters from his district and surrounding areas who will be affected by the strike.

Drivers United for Mass Progress and Equal Rights-Philippine Taxi Drivers Association (Dumper PTDA) party-list Rep. Claudine Diana Bautista-Lim guaranteed on Saturday that traditional jeepneys will not be phased out by December 31.

“No less than Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista clarified that consolidation does not mean the end of the line for traditional jeepneys. The deadline set is for operators and drivers to either form or join cooperatives or incorporate themselves into collective juridical entities,” Bautista-Lim said.

Bautista-Lim, who is also the vice chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, said President Marcos’ message that the PUVMP has to be “enhanced” is very clear.

“We in government are sensitive to the plight of the transportation sector. We are after the welfare not only of the operators and drivers of PUVs but also of the riding public as well. Contrary to misinformation, ‘consolidation’ does not equate to phasing out traditional jeepneys,” she said.

She said the majority of PUV drivers and operators favor the PUVMP initiative, noting the fact that 24 cooperatives in the Davao Region alone had signed a manifesto endorsing it.

“We agree with President Bongbong Marcos and DOTR that its implementation needs more discussions; hence, there will be a Committee Hearing on Transportation in Congress next week. I am set to personally meet Secretary Bautista and other DoTr officials to discuss further how we can improve the PUVMP,” Bautista-Lim said.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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