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Transport strike fails

The situation in areas where there were stranded passengers returned to normal as early as 8:30 in the morning.

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GOVERNMENT comes quick to aid stranded commuters as the transport strike called by several groups fizzled out yesterday.

The nationwide transport strike on Monday was a failure.

This was declared by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), noting that proactive measures implemented by various government agencies, led by the Department of Transportation (DoTr), ensured normalcy in streets despite the stoppage of service of several public transport vehicles.

Commuters in Metro Manila scrambled for alternative modes of transport during the morning rush hour. Deployment of government mobility assets and the suspension of classes mitigated the effects of the strike, however.

The DoTr, MMDA, Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units (LGU) joined hands in providing free rides to commuters to prevent them from being stranded.

“The situation in areas where there were stranded passengers returned to normal as early as 8:30 in the morning,” MMDA spokesman Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago declared.

“They (transport groups) were not successful,” she added.

Over 200 buses from the MMDA and other government agencies were quickly dispatched to provide free rides to commuters while traffic enforcers from LGU assisted in maintaining order.

In Metro Manila, the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Pasig, Marikina, Manila and Quezon provided free rides to commuters, while various Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) regional offices also assisted commuters in the provinces.

Police and military trucks were also deployed to provide assistance.

The MMDA suspended the number coding scheme for public utility vehicles, noting that some organized transport groups did not participate in the strike.

The free rides served the public until the rush hours in the evening.

Old jeepney phaseout

In a news briefing, LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra said the agency will continue with the phaseout of old jeepney models.

He also said the agency will revoke the franchises of public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and endorse the cancelation of licenses of drivers who joined the protest.

Delgra said a total of 170,000 units are expected to be replaced with modern and environment-friendly units under the government’s ambitious PUV Modernization Program.

While the June 2020 target of phasing out old jeepneys could not be achieved, Delgra said he is hopeful for a full phaseout by the end of the Duterte administration.

“We are unlikely to replace all of them, but the (PUV Modernization Program) will continue,” he said.

“Not only will this increase the level of service, but it will also address traffic congestion. It is a great equalizer to all,” he added.

Meanwhile, Malacañang reiterated that the modernization of the public transport system “is long overdue.”

“The Duterte administration will not be intimidated nor cowed by threats of protests and strikes coming from those who only think of their own parochial interest,” said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.

No untoward incidents

Meanwhile, the PNP declared the transport strike was peaceful and orderly and that no untoward incident was reported.

“In many ways, the (LGU), the MMDA, and local police units all helped in providing transport services to stranded commuters,” the PNP said.

“The PNP remains vigilant and alert to prevent the occurrence of crimes and ready to respond to any call for help or assistance,” it added.

In related developments, pro-modernization Pasang Masda urged leaders of other transport groups to stop “misleading” jeepney operators with regards the PUV modernization.

“Let us all be constructive,” Pasang Masda president Obet Martin said. “We need to explain to the public that the Department of Transportation’s move to modernize our jeepneys will benefit us in the long run.”

Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, on the other hand, did not join the transport holiday despite its strong apprehension of the program.

Two major transport groups, the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, headed by Efren de Luna, and the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide, under president Modi Floranda, spearheaded the strike.

With Francis T. Wakefield, Elmer N. Manuel and Korinah Saromines

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