LIBRENG SAKAY. A bus offering free rides to the public deployed by the city government of Angeles in Pampanga province amid the transport strike on Monday (March 6, 2023). The free rides from 5 a.m. to midnight are provided by 10 Philippine Rabbit buses covering five routes within the province. (Photo courtesy of Angeles City Government)

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The transport operation in Central Luzon is normal on Monday as jeepney operators and drivers did not join the nationwide weeklong strike.

Dan Yumol, chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator and Confederation of the Passenger Transport of Central Luzon, said the nationwide transport strike was hardly felt in the seven provinces in the region -- Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bataan, Zambales, Aurora and Pampanga -- as jeepneys continue to ply the streets.

“Wala po. Malinaw na malinaw na as early as 5 a.m. ay nagmo-monitor tayo at sa pitong probinsya ng Central Luzon ay normal ang biyahe (There is no disruption. It is very clear, as early as 5 a.m., we have been monitoring and in the seven provinces of Central Luzon, transportation is normal),” he said in a television interview in the region.

He said the local government units (LGUs) in the region have prepared contingency measures in anticipation of the transport strike set from March 6-12.

“Nag-ready po ang mga local chief executives natin. Nag-field sila ng free shuttle bus at nag-cancel po sila ng face-to-face classes, both public and private in all levels (Our local chief executives have prepared. They fielded free shuttle buses and the face-to-face classes, both in public and private schools in all levels were canceled), he added.

Likewise, Yumol said business process outsourcing companies inside the Clark Freeport which have a total of 80,000 workers implemented a work-from-home scheme.

“Pinaghandaan talaga nila itong tigil pasada nationwide (They really prepared for this nationwide transport strike)," he said.

Yumol said they decided not to participate in the nationwide strike because the government, particularly the Department of Transportation (DOTr), has been addressing their concerns.

In Angeles City, the local government deployed buses offering free rides to the residents as early as 5 a.m. until midnight.

The free rides cover five routes -- Cutud-Sapang Maisac boundary; Balibago-Dau boundary; Cutcut-Porac boundary; Sto. Domingo-San Fernando boundary; and Mining-Malino boundary.

Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. said this is to ensure that transportation services will be available for the public, whose safety and convenience are their priority.

The Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) likewise deployed its vehicles.

“Nag tag-isang biyahe lang po ang ating PDRRMO vehicles nitong alas-singko ng umaga papunta ng junction mula Golangco-Floridablanca, Sto. Domingo-Mexico, Balite-City of San Fernando, Apalit at Guagua. Agad naman pong tumigil ang ating PDRRMO vehicles dahil normal naman po ang biyahe (Our PDRRMO vehicles only took one trip each at 5 a.m. going to junction from Golangco-Floridablanca, Sto. Domingo-Mexico, Balite-City of San Fernando, Apalit and Guagua. However, our PDRRMO vehicles immediately stopuped because the transport operation is normal),” said PDRRMO executive officer Angie Blanco.

Among the transport groups in the region that did not join the transport strike were the Federation of Transport Groups in Central Luzon composed of 16 transport organizations in the provinces of Bataan, Tarlac, Bulacan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga, as well as the Pampanga and Angeles City-based Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association, the Clark Transport Association and Bulacan Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (BFJODA). (PNA)