Transport group to push through with ‘tigil pasada’ on October 16
October 14, 2023 | 4:07pm
MANILA, Philippines — Transport group Malayang Alyansa ng Bus Employees at Laborers (MANIBELA) will push through with its earlier planned transport strike on Monday against the deadline set for the consolidation of traditional jeepneys.
The group’s president Mar Valbuena confirmed this Saturday, as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) continues to insist on the December 31 deadline in connection with the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.
“If they don’t listen to us, we will continue. If we only resorted to a transport strike last time, this time we’ll go straight to Malacañang with our units and we’ll voice our grievances there,” said Valbuena in Filipino in a dzBB interview.
“What I can say is this: I hope we reach an agreement first before Monday comes. In our first strike, we’ve talked but nothing happened.”
MANIBELA and PISTON last March halted their planned week-long strike after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. agreed to study the revision of the highly controversial PUV modernization program.
Under the program, jeepney drivers and operators are required to join cooperatives or corporations by the end of the end, with the ultimate aim of replacing traditional jeeps with environment-friendly fuels.
Groups have earlier lamented said move to phaseout traditional jeeps and UV Express since modern minibuses cost as much as P2.8 million each.
Valbuena’s group also staged a transport strike against PUV phaseout last July, coinciding with the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Marcos Jr.
“In the months that the president said that studies will be conducted, we have never been invited,” continued the MANIBELA leader.
“In terms of readiness when it comes to losing our jobs, we’re not ready for that. But the protest, we’re very much ready for that.”
The planned transport strike comes after Marcos Jr. suspended LTFRB chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III, allegedly due to irregularities in the agency, with at least P5 million being paid “in exchange for the approval of franchise or securing routes and special permits” in connection with the modernization program.
The Department of Transportation in response appoined Mercy Paras Leynes as the new officer-in-charge for the LTFRB.
At least seven other transport groups have warned of a transport holiday “if alleged extortion activities by some barangays remain unaddressed by Metro Manila’s chief executives.”
Former LTFRB head executive assistant Jeff Tumbado, who earlier bared the corruption in LTFRB, has since apologized and recanted his claims after the suspension of Guadiz.