Drivers' group skeds jeepney strike
Drivers' group skeds jeepney strike
() - November 10, 2005 - 12:00am
A group of jeepney drivers hope to make a major statement today as they join the national day of protest calling for the scrapping of the Expanded Value Added Tax and the Oil Deregulation Law.

Only members of the Alliance of Transport Operators Member Intra-Cebu City or ATOMIC are, however, joining the transport strike today because other transport groups declined to participate.

Despite that, leaders of Nagkahiusang Drayber sa Sugbo and Visayas United Drivers and Transport Operators Corporation said, they support the cause of ATOMIC members, because the transport sector is the first to be affected by the increase in oil prices due to the implementation of eVAT and Oil Deregulation Law.

Passengers on the other hand need not worry about getting to work or school on time as the city hall is putting in place contingency measures to ensure that they will not be stranded.

City councilor Sylvan Jakosalem said that the city is preparing 18 Kaohsiung buses and 45 multicabs to ferry passengers who might be stranded due to the planned jeepney strike.

Aside from this, jeepney drivers, who are not joining the strike, will be given privilege cards for their cooperation with the authorities. This card can be used to write off traffic violations that a driver might have committed. However, only one traffic violation is erased per privilege card given.

Jakosalem said, the city is more concerned of the peace and order situation especially that several protesters from cause-oriented groups are expected to join the striking jeepney drivers. Police will be fielded to ensure that no untoward incidents will happen.

ATOMIC spokesman Pete Negara said that although they could not paralyze all the routes in Cebu City, they are hopeful that they can create an impact because they expect all of their members to cooperate and refrain from plying their routes starting this 3 am. The reportedly group has more than 1,000 card-bearing members.

Officials of the group expect around 60 to 70 percent of the transport system in the city to be affected, as drivers 14 major routes would be joining the strike.

Aside from not plying their routes, members of ATOMIC will also help man what they call as "choke points" where rallies would be held in key areas of the city.

ATOMIC president Rudy Laconza said that jeepney drivers and people from cause-oriented groups in 13 other cities and municipalities around the country would join the protest.

Set to join ATOMIC in the Cebu protest would be the Labor Power Council, Sanlakas, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Partido ng Manggagawa, and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod, among others.

The choke points would be at Plaza Independencia, Gaisano Metro-Colon, P. Del Rosario St., Mambaling, B. Rodriguez St., V. Rama Ave., N. Bacalso Ave., and Parian.

Steve Cañas, VUDTRASCO president said that his group would not be joining the strike, but he is not also discouraging his members from participating.

"We would not be joining the strike but we are one with them in their demand for the scrapping of eVAT and Oil Deregulation Law," said Antonio Pogado, NADSU chairman. He added that they could not join because ATOMIC only informed them this week and it's too late for them to call a meeting among the members and prepare for the protest action.

Members of the LPC are expected to walk out of their offices and join the other workers in rallies. Those who are working at the Mactan Economic Zone in Lapu-Lapu City had also signified their interest to join the protest.

In Lapu-Lapu City, 300 multicab drivers are reportedly joining the strike. Choke points would be put up at the old and new Mandaue-Mactan bridges, near the city hospital, in Basak and Marigondon and all roads that are going to the MEPZ I and MEPZ II.

Acting Cebu City Police Director Melvin Gayotin yesterday assured that they are very much prepared for the transport strike as far maintenance of peace and order is concerned.

Gayotin said, three platoons of policemen from the Regional Mobile Group are ready for deployment from their headquarters in the southern town of Sibonga.

Aside from that, three company-size units composed of policemen from the 11 stations around Cebu City are also on standby for any eventuality.

Gayotin, however said that it is uncertain if the strike can really paralyze the public transpoirt system since the big transport groups are not joining.

The Cebu City Police will be setting up checkpoints in several areas to ensure the safety of those who will not be joining the protest action. - Wenna A. Berondo, Ryan P. Borinaga and Mitchelle P. Calipayan

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