LTFRB threatens to cancel franchise of transport strikers

MANILA, Philippines — Those who joined the transport strike may face suspension or outright revocation of their franchises, a ranking official of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said yesterday.

In a radio interview, LTFRB Technical Working Group chief Joel Bolano said the agency will initiate an investigation of public utility jeepney (PUJ) operators who participated in the transport strike.

“We have people on the ground as well as other agencies. If our people will forward to us information, we can investigate motu proprio and will issue show cause orders against those who joined the transport strike and rally,” Bolano said. “The franchise holders should not remove their vehicles on the streets and they have an obligation to provide services to passengers.”

Bolano said a show-cause order would be issued to the jeepney drivers to explain their side.

At the same time, he said that necessary measures were put in place to minimize the impact of the transport strike. Bolano maintained that PUJ drivers and operators can express their sentiments without resorting to transport strikes. “Nobody is preventing them from expressing their sentiments, that’s their right. What is important is that it does not affect their routes and the commuters,” he noted.

Members of Manibela led the transport strike as the deadline for them to comply with the modernization program of the government was set on Dec. 31, 2023.

Manibela claims success

Manibela president Mar Valbuena on Monday said the strike of PUJs successfully paralyzed Metro Manila, contradicting the claim of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) that the effect was minimal.

“I am confident that here in the National Capital Region, 80 percent of the transport was paralyzed as we also went out, unlike (MMDA acting Chairman Romando) Artes who was only inside his office,” Valbuena said in an interview with The STAR.

Valbuena noted that Metro Manila became a “ghost town” as many residents chose to stay inside their homes to avoid being affected by the transport strike.

He said many local government units (LGUs) decided to suspend classes ahead of the transport strike, adding it was understandable that officials downplayed the impact of the strike.

He claimed that aside from Metro Manila, many jeepney drivers also joined the transport strike in the provinces. He noted that he is no longer interested in the dialogue being organized by Malacañang after the scheduled meeting did not push through on Sunday.

Valbuena said suspended LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III should not be reinstated after President Marcos ordered his suspension amid corruption allegations against him.

Affected routes

Some routes in Manila were affected by the jeepney strike organized by Manibela.

According to the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, fewer passenger jeepneys were observed on the following routes: San Juan-Divisoria; Nagtahan-Paco; Balic-balic-Quiapo; San Andres-Padre Faura and Zobel Roxas-Paco.

The local government sent vehicles like trucks to carry stranded passengers on the routes, as well Blumentritt-Novaliches, Divisoria-Cubao and Morayta-Divisoria.

Among those who joined the protest and did not drive their passenger jeepneys were 286 members of the San Andres Bukid Jeepney Drivers and Operators Association, which is affiliated with Manibela.

Despite the issues, Artes downplayed Manibela’s transport strike, maintaining it succeeded in getting attention instead of paralyzing public transport.

Despite numerous declarations of class suspensions and shift to remote classes, Artes also asserted the government was not threatened by Manibela’s jeepney strike and even offered free rides.

He also appealed for understanding from motorists after the agency did not suspend the number coding scheme yesterday.

Libreng sakay

The Quezon City government deployed additional buses to provide free rides to those affected by the transport strike on Monday.

Aside from the additional buses operating on eight routes of the Q City Bus service, several local offices also deployed various vehicles to provide free transport. These included e-trikes from the QC Department of Public Order and Safety, as well as vehicles from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and different barangays.

The local government did not impose a city-wide suspension of classes, citing the recommendation from relevant offices, including the Schools Division Office and the QCPD. It allowed private schools and colleges to decide on whether to impose class suspensions due to the transport strike.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) deployed on Monday its patrol vehicles to offer free transportation services to commuters affected by the nationwide public transport strike.

A total of 88 patrol vehicles from several police districts had been deployed. Meanwhile, around 17 vehicles, including two trucks and two buses from the NCRPO, were mobilized to assist affected commuters.

Aside from patrol vehicles, a total of 2,245 NCRPO personnel were deployed at different pickup and drop-off points to respond to adverse situations.

Classes suspended

Several LGUs in southern Metro Manila were prompted to suspend classes due to the nationwide public transport strike.

The LGUs of Pasay and Parañaque suspended face-to-face classes at all levels in public and private schools. All classes were instructed to shift to online or modular learning.

In Las Piñas, both onsite and online classes at all levels were suspended in public and private schools.

Meanwhile, the Muntinlupa City government provided free transportation services to commuters affected by the nationwide public transport strike.

Free transportation services were provided from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on major thoroughfares in the city, which did not announce class or work suspension.

Similarly, the LGU of Taguig also did not implement a city-wide suspension of work and classes after several transport groups in the city confirmed they will not be joining the strike.

In Makati, the city government did not suspend work and classes.

Marcos defends Modernization

The Philippines needs to modernize the country’s public transportation to lessen its dependence on imported fuel, reduce pollution and fight climate change, President Marcos said on Monday.

Marcos’ remark came as transport group Manibela pushed through with its strike to oppose the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.

“Considering our continued dependence on imported fuels and the volatility of oil products in the world market, it is only sensible that we encourage the shift to electric vehicles,” the President said at the launch of Dongfeng Motors Philippines’ hybrid and electric vehicles in Ortigas, Pasig City.

“We not only get savings in fuel and gas, but also significantly lessen our greenhouse gas emissions and champion sustainability in our day-to-day activities,” Marcos said.

The LTFRB maintains the Dec. 31 deadline in connection with the PUV Modernization Program, where jeepney drivers and operators are required to join cooperatives or corporations, with the ultimate goal of replacing traditional jeepneys with environment-friendly vehicles. — Ramon Efren Lazaro, Ed Amoroso, Nillicent Bautista, Janvic Mateo, Ghio Ong, Helen Flores


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