MANILA – The transport strike has limited effect on public transportation based on the number of Libreng Sakay (free ride) rescue vehicles deployed in the National Capital Region, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday said.
Citing data from the first two days of the strike, LTFRB spokesperson Celine Pialago said around 50 government assets were deployed daily since Monday, fewer than the 66 vehicles deployed during the previous transport strike in October.
“Hindi naman po nagri-relax ang LTFRB together with other attached agencies, MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority), DOTr (Department of Transportation) para po tiyakin na may masasakyan iyong ating mga pasahero doon po sa mga maapektuhan na ruta (The LTFRB and other attached agencies of the DOTr such as the MMDA do not rest to ensure that those affected by the strike have transportation),” Pialago said in an interview over Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon.
Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) held a three-day transport strike until Wednesday to protest the government's public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) and the consolidation requirement of the program as well as other recently proposed amendments to the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines.
Latest data from the MMDA show that a total of 83 rescue vehicles were deployed on Wednesday and benefited 1,547 passengers.
While an agreement between the LTFRB and Piston has not been finalized, she said the group has agreed to end the transport strike on Wednesday morning and will instead continue their protest through a march towards Malacañang.
“Wala na pong tigil-pasada, ngunit may martsa. Iyon po ang huling mensaheng ipinaabot ho nila sa atin (Their transport strike is over, but there will be a march. That’s the last message given to us by Piston),” she said.
Pialago assured protestors that several of their demands have been agreed upon by the LTFRB such as waiving penalties, extending franchise validity to up to five years, and other changes to the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG).
“After all of the efforts po of adjusting the OFG, lahat po ito ay halos 50 percent ng kanilang hiling ay napagbigyan at iyong iba naman po ay nabigyan-linaw na (After all of the efforts of adjusting the OFG, about half of their demands have been met and the rest have been clarified),” she said.
However, she said the deadline for consolidation or submitting a letter of intent remains on Dec. 31 and is “non-negotiable.”
Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said consolidation of jeepney operators and drivers into cooperatives or corporations is an essential component of the PUVMP.
“One very important issue that is non-negotiable is industry consolidation because we really need the players to consolidate into cooperatives or corporations,“ Bautista said on the sidelines of the Stratbase ADR Institute Pilipinas Conference on Wednesday.
“Sabi ko nga hindi namin pwedeng pagbigyan 'yung ayaw nilang magconsolidate. Sa tingin namin this is an important component of PUVMP (We cannot allow that they won't consolidate),” he added.
Meanwhile, the local version of the nationwide transport strike did not paralyze public transportation in Cebu, an official said Thursday.
Eduardo Montealto Jr., regional director of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Central Visayas, said Piston-Cebu held a protest in front of the agency’s regional office in Cebu City on Wednesday.
“It was a peaceful protest in front of our office. But public transportation in Cebu and the rest of Region 7 went on like regular days as if there was no strike,” Montealto told the Philippine News Agency.
He cited local government units in the province for deploying their buses to augment in case of transport paralysis.
However, the LTFRB-7 official said they observed that both the modern and traditional jeepneys continue to ply their respective routes despite calls from Piston to join the strike.
“Your LTFRB here in Central Visayas continues to welcome transport groups in case they want to embrace PUV modernization,” he added. (With a report from John Rey Saavedra, PNA)